Dream come true

by - Senior Writer -
Bobbie Felder with her son Brad Felder.

CLEMSON – Bobbie Felder watched her son take the field at Doug Kingsmore for the opener of the 2012 Clemson baseball season, and chill bumps ran up and down her body.

And the chills keep coming.

Bobbie Felder is the former Bobbie Mims, who played women's basketball at Clemson from 1976-80 and was selected to the Clemson Hall of Fame in 2001. It was one of her dreams – and that of her son Brad – for him to play baseball for the Tigers, a dream that began almost from the time he was born.

Brad realized that dream this year, using his final year of collegiate eligibility to come in and play outfield for Jack LeggettJack Leggett
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’s Tigers. He has started all six games – in right field – and has hit .250 with one homer and four runs driven in.

His mother said it is essentially a dream come true for both of them.

“He’s been a Clemson fan since he could walk,” Bobbie said. “My children didn’t have any choice. They were Tigers from birth. He dreamed about coming here to play. Out of high school, he just really wasn’t quite good enough to play here. He got a great opportunity at The Citadel. He got better there. He grew. Everything just fell into place.”

Brad lettered all four years at Orangeburg Prep in high school, and wanted to continue his career at Clemson.

“I grew up a Clemson fan with my mom playing basketball and all. I didn’t really have choice,” Brad said after Sunday’s win over Maine. “She didn’t really give me much choice. I enjoy it up here. I always pulled for Clemson. I wanted to come here out of high school, but it didn’t work out. They had a pretty good team back then, but everything ended up working out. I always wanted to come here.”

Brad wound up playing at The Citadel, where he played three seasons (2008,10,11). While there, he hit .252 with 19 doubles, 10 triples, 18 homers, 68 RBIs, 107 runs, and 36 steals in 151 games (136 starts).

At the end of last season, he decided that he would give professional baseball a shot, and wound up going to an Atlanta Braves tryout in Atlanta. After the tryout attempt failed, he emailed Clemson coach Bradley LeCroy.

“I went to a tryout in Atlanta and did really well,” he said. “But I never heard back from them, so I was just going to give up. I waited for a couple of days and decided that I am going to be working for the rest of my life so I might as well give it [Clemson] a shot and see what happens. I emailed coach [Bradley] LeCroy, and he knew one of my coaches from the Citadel. It ended up working out because they had a spot open here after they lost their entire outfield.”

The way to Clemson still wasn’t easy, however.

“I contacted Coach LeCroy, but he didn’t say anything for a while,” he said. “I think he contacted my coach at the Citadel, and they talked and maybe got an approval. He put in a good word for me. He decided to return the call and we talked things out.”

Bobbie said it took a lot of things breaking the right way at the right time in order for Brad to become a Tiger.

“He graduated. We were excited that he graduated from The Citadel,” she said. “It’s a great institution. They have a great baseball program. He had kind of given up and decided that he was going to go to work. We saw where all of the outfielders had been drafted from Clemson and we said, ‘Hey, why don’t you give it a shot? They might need another outfielder.’ We really didn’t have expectations that it would fall into place so quick. He applied to graduate school, took the GRE, and in a matter of a few weeks he was in school, talking to Coach Leggett and on the team. Everything just fell into place.”

She still tried to not get her hopes up, however.

“I’m always cautiously optimistic,” she said. “I didn’t want to get my hopes up. We came up and talked to Coach LeCroy and Coach Leggett in August. After we left Coach Leggett said, ‘I’m not promising you anything, but I’ll give you a shot.’ That’s all we wanted. Brad is making his own way so I’m happy for him.”

She said what she wanted most of all for her son was for him to experience – if only for one year – what she experienced as a Tiger.

“Playing here, the thing I remember the most is the people,” she said. “The people at the university and the coaches. I played for Coach Tribble- Annie Tribble. She is a legend. She is more than a coach. She is a fabulous person. She made all of her players better people, not just better basketball players but better people. We loved to win.

“She was always about winning, but she was also about building character and building good citizens. Clemson is a special place. It’s like family. There is no other place like it. Words can’t describe it. Clemson is such a special place. I am thrilled that Brad gets to experience what I got to experience. There’s nothing like it- no place like it in the world.”

Brad said that his mother was pleased once she learned he would be playing for Leggett, and hasn’t put any pressure or expectations on him.

Not more than one, anyway.

“She loved it. She always wanted me to come here out of high school,” he said. “She has always been proud of me. She says that no matter what happens she’s proud that I’m up here wearing the uniform. I don’t put a bunch a pressure on myself and just try to come out here and perform and have fun. The only thing she really told me coming up here was to make her proud and don’t put her in the hall of shame when I leave here. Just don’t do anything to ruin her name and I’ll be alright.”

And Bobbie will get to continue her chill bump tradition.

“Every time I see him come out, I get chill bumps,” she said. “It’s great to see him in a Tiger uniform. He came up here with a good attitude. He’s got a year left. He said earlier that he’s having more fun than he’s ever had playing baseball. It’s a great atmosphere, a great program, a great group of guys and great coaches. It’s perfect.”

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