Bradley's mother, Pam, was his principal at Broken Arrow High School in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma. It kept Archie close to his books, for sure.
"When your mom is the principal, you’re held to a different standard. She wouldn’t let me play if I got anything below a B and I know she’s not playing around. If I have a problem, she’ll help me but if she thinks I’m lazy, there are no excuses.”
Bradley revealed that his favorite class in school had to do with helping others.
"My favorite class is peer tutoring because I love getting to interact with special needs students. I feel I make a positive impact on their day and in the end, those students have made me a better person," he said.
In 2011, Archie's senior season of high school, he was 12-1 with a 0.29 ERA and 137 strikeouts in 72 innings. He committed to a football scholarship (quarterback) at the University of Oklahoma, who would've also allowed him to pitch for the Sooners' baseball team.
"It's a win-win situation,” said Bradley. “When it’s football season, I think I like football most but during baseball season, I like baseball. If I’m drafted, great, and if I’m not, you can’t beat a college education where I’d be the hometown kid. You never know what is going to happen so it’s nice to have fall-back positions.
"Football has helped me tremendously, especially on the mental side," Bradley said. "I have to understand what everyone on the field is doing. Everything is in your hands. It really taught me how to slow down the game and keep everything under control."
In 2011, Bradley got drafted by the Diamondbacks and had a decision to make. "I love the game of football and I thought a lot about playing it at the college level. I talked with my family and looked at the pros and cons of both options. At the end of the day, I knew playing baseball was the best decision," Archie said.
In 2012, the Baseball America Prospect Handbook rated Bradley as the second-best prospect in the Diamondbacks organization, behind only Trevor Bauer, in the spring of 2012. He was at #2 again in the winter before 2013 spring training, behind lefthander Tyler Skaggs, this time.
And Archie was the #1 prospect in the Diamondbacks' organization in the spring(s) of both 2014 and 2015. They dropped him a bit, to 4th-best prospect in the Arizona farm system.
In 2012, Archie led the Midwest League in opponent average (.181) as well as walks (84).
- Other than playing big league sports, Archie has other goals -- like being a sports analyst for ESPN or becoming a personal trainer or maybe at some level of sports business management, he said. The common thread, of course, is he loves sports and he can’t imagine a future without being involved in some way.
- Off the field, Bradley likes being in a bass boat on a lake and camping for a night or two.
Archie's role model: Drew Brees of the New Orleans Saints. He even emulates Brees with charitable work, participating in a program called Tiger Pals that each Friday during the season has the football players going out into the neighborhood elementary schools.
“We stress that developing good study habits is important starting in elementary school,” explains Bradley.
For baseball, Archie is a fan of the Atlanta Braves.
- Bradley is a real competitor.
Bradley is not just the talk of the town back in Broken Arrow for baseball. The former high school baseball and football player gives back, too. When a series of tornadoes ravaged homes in his home state of Oklahoma, Bradley stepped up to help in a big way.
Bradley started his own relief effort to help victims rebuild, selling a signed pair of his pink Mother's Day cleats on eBay and collecting a variety of other items from fellow athletes to put on the auction block.
"It's been really neat [to make a difference]," Bradley said. "My home state affected like that, to see those families go through something like that, it's been heartbreaking."
In 2013, Archie was named the Southern League Most Outstanding Pitcher of the Year, as voted on by the league's field managers, radio broadcasters and print media.
In 2013, the D-backs named Bradley the organization's Minor League Pitcher of the Year. He ranked third in the minor league ERA race (1.84) and fifth with 162 strikeouts.
Following a successful 2014 spring training outing, Bradley turned out to be as poised in an interview session as he was on the mound, smiling for the microphones and cameras. He's 21 and a golly-gee kid from in Muskogee, Okla. Clean cut, as friendly and genuine as they come.
"I had a lot of fun out there," Bradley said. "It was fun to finally face someone without a Diamondbacks jersey on. It felt really good to be on this side, in big league camp. Obviously, you couldn't ask for a better debut. I got the adrenaline going, I got to compete, and it felt good.
"It was very challenging and fun. It was very exciting, too," Bradley said. "I've watched those guys for a couple of years now, and to finally be on the mound looking at them in a game and to get them out, that was very exciting and fun, too. "You look out there and there are Gold Glovers, Tulo, Cuddyer ... I didn't really study them for this start. It was a spring start. I don't know them that well. But at some point, I'm going to face them again, whether it's this year, next year or whenever it is."
Arizona manager Kirk Gibson said that Bradley has "something most guys don't have, and we'd like to see him use it."
Bradley complied by throwing about 95 percent hard fastballs, with a few breaking pitches. He didn't even attempt using the changeup. Bradley rose to the occasion. He said. "Once you step out on the mound and things actually matter, the results count, that's when you can really see where your stuff is and really evaluate yourself." (Bloom - mlb.com - 3/04/14)
- April 11, 2015: Bradley made his Major League debut, and he did not disappoint. Bradley, the seventh overall pick of the 2011 draft, out-pitched reigning Best Pitcher on the Planet Clayton Kershaw to lift the Diamondbacks to a 6-0 win over the Dodgers, improving Arizona’s early record to 3-2.
Bradley, 22, was nothing short of phenomenal. He threw 112 pitchers over six innings, allowing a single hit while striking out six. As that pitch count may indicate, Bradley did struggle at times with his command, walking four batters. According to ESPN, Bradley became the fifth pitcher since 2003 to make his debut against a former Cy Young winner. Somewhat surprisingly, he was also the fourth pitcher to win such a start.
May 15, 2015: Bradley realizes there is no hiding from the fact he got hit in the face by a 115-mph line drive the last time he took the mound in a game, so he once again watched a replay of it. Bradley, who suffered a slight sinus fracture on the play April 28, was activated from the 15-day disabled list in time to start the game with the Phillies.
"Now, it's just routine," said Bradley. "Just back to normal, like it never happened. I'm sure I'll still think about it sometimes here and there, but I feel like when it comes to game time, it's just going to be trying to focus on the game plan and focus on trying to get them out."
Along with his football background -- he was a standout high school quarterback and turned down a scholarship offer at the University of Oklahoma to sign with the D-backs -- Bradley believes it helped him bounce back quickly.
"I think that's the biggest thing is I've been hit many times under the chin making a throw and had to get back up, and I feel like it's just similar to that," Bradley said of playing football. "Same mentality, you've just got to be tough, wipe it from your memory and just keep playing. It's one of those freak things. If it happens again, it just happens.
"That was my main point, physically I'm not scared of it happening and mentally I'm not either, and I think that's the kind of wall you have to get over. Where are you at mentally? Where are you at in your mind? Are you scared? And you can't be scared when you're out there trying to get guys out." (S Gilbert - MLB.com - May 15, 2015)
In 2015 Spring Training, Bradley won a spot in the Diamondbacks' rotation, due a lot to his poise on the rubber, his command of the zone, and his ability to throw his curveball for strikes.
“It’s exciting for him. Exciting for the ball club. Exciting for the organization,” big league manager Chip Hale said.
Archie showed poise despite the expected first-game excitement. He worked the count full eight times, including to the first five batters, but finished with five strikeouts and four walks.
He worked around the only hit he allowed, a fourth-inning Howie Kendrick double that put runners on second and third with one out, by inducing a strikeout on a breaking ball in the dirt and then a groundout.
"For me to get a win for this team in my debut is pretty special, but now it’s off to the next one.” (J. Magruder - Baseball America - 5/08/15)
When Bradley was planning his 2015-16 offseason workout regimen, he decided to consult with someone outside the pitching ranks.
"Even though he's a different player, I figured why not ask Goldy?" Bradley said, referring to first baseman Paul Goldschmidt. "I remember asking Goldy the middle of the year, 'What do you do during the offseason? Where do you work out?'"
Goldschmidt told Bradley that he does all his work at the team's Salt River Fields Spring Training facility. That was good enough for Bradley, who called his parents in Oklahoma with a message.
"I'm coming home for Thanksgiving, I'm coming home for Christmas and that's it," Bradley told them.
"It was awesome," Bradley said. "I could do everything here from lifting to recovery. If our trainers and strength staff are going to offer their time in the offseason, why not take advantage of it? Why not be around the guys that are going to be here throughout the season? It was the best offseason I've ever had."
Bradley also got to get in some work with new D-backs pitching coach Mike Butcher before Spring Training opened.
"After being in the big leagues last year, I realized I don't want to be anyplace else," Bradley said. "This is where I want to be. It was the best offseason I've ever had." (Gilbert - MLB.com - 3/1/16)
In the summer of 2016, as he made his way around the National League, Archie had a constant companion at his side -- a Polaroid camera. Bradley has snapped photos on the field with friends who have come to visit him, of the ballparks he's gotten to pitch in and some of the broadcasters he was familiar with while growing up in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma.
"Honestly, not to sound cheesy, but I really don't take for granted this position that I'm in," Bradley said. "Every stadium I'm in, every place we go, every BP we take, I mean thousands and thousands of people pay money to watch us. I really am just kind of enamored and caught up in what I'm allowed to do every day."
On one D-backs road trip, which included stops in Milwaukee and Los Angeles, Bradley met and had his picture taken with Brewers radio play-by-play legend Bob Uecker as well as the retiring Vin Scully. Archie was raised to address people older than him as Mr. or Miss, but neither Uecker or Scully were having any of that and insisted he call them by their first names. They also caught Bradley off guard by knowing who he was.
"What they've done for the game, the history and the respect people around the game have for both of them," Bradley said. "To think they knew about me, it was really unbelievable."
With the Polaroid providing an instant picture, Bradley was able to have both broadcasters sign the photos. Bradley has all the pictures he's taken taped to a mirror in his Phoenix-area home with notes written underneath him. It provides him with a photo journal of his baseball journey.
"With an iPhone, you can just snap a picture and it saves to your phone. But with a Polaroid, it's better, because I like to take a Polaroid and just write a little note down like, 'Met Vin Scully today and talked to him about this.' That way, after the season I can go back and look at it, and it's kind of my way to remember stuff and keep track of everything. Just taking advantage of the opportunity that I have." (Gilbert - MLB.com - 8/4/16)
Feb 24, 2017: Brewers pitching prospect Adrian Houser was two days removed from Tommy John surgery last summer and facing a grueling rehab at Milwaukee's year-round facility in Phoenix, when he realized he needed a place to live. He texted an old friend asking for help. The way Houser remembers it, Archie Bradley answered almost instantly.
"Bro, I'll always have a room for you," Bradley replied.
The two have known each other since they were 7 or 8 years old growing up in Oklahoma -- Bradley, now with the D-backs, is an Okie from Muskogee, straight out of the Merle Haggard song, and Houser was born 30 miles away in Tahlequah. They played for rival travel teams at first, but Houser's -- the Locust Grove Pirates -- picked up Bradley for a couple of tournaments, and they became friends.
Eventually, the teams combined to form the Tulsa Lookouts, featuring a pitching staff with three future Major Leaguers: Bradley, Houser and the Orioles' Dylan Bundy. Bradley stood out.
"He threw really, really hard at a young age," Houser said. "Everyone knew about him." No, there were no radar guns on these 8-year-olds. But Bradley's ability was obvious. "He overpowered people."
They played together until they were 12 or 13, then parted ways and prepared for high school. In 2011, all three were high draft picks -- Bundy to the Orioles with the fourth overall pick, Bradley to the D-backs at No. 7 and Houser to the Astros in the second round.
Bundy made it to the Majors first, in 2012; followed by Bradley in April 2015; and Houser, who was traded from Houston to Milwaukee that July, for two scoreless relief appearances in September. Houser returned to Double-A Biloxi in 2016 and made 13 starts before injuring his elbow. He underwent reconstructive surgery in July and was still in a brace when he moved into Bradley's North Scottsdale home in the first week of August.
Houser spent the remainder of the summer rehabbing at Maryvale Baseball Park during the day, and watching Bradley at night as the righthander finished 8-9 with a 5.02 ERA in 26 starts for the D-backs. Between offseason workouts, they spent the winter grilling out and shooting baskets in Bradley's pool. Houser resumed throwing in January. Both are hoping for a better 2017. (A McCalvy and S Gilbert - MLB.com - Feb 24, 2017)
Bradley has already made 34 Major League starts in his young professional career and hopes to make more if promoted from his current reliever role. But none have provided him with the biggest adrenaline rush he has ever felt.
He goes far off the mound to find that. He loves pitching, but hunting gives him an unparalleled thrill. “I can’t explain it, man,” Bradley said. “If you want to picture your most nervous, craziest moment, that’s what it is. You can’t control your hands, you can’t control your breathing. It’s like something you can’t even put into words.”
Bradley’s love for hunting came long after he started playing baseball. He didn’t discover hunting until his junior year of high school when his girlfriend and her family introduced him to it. Bradley was immediately hooked. Once Bradley was drafted by the D-backs in 2011, he was finally able to afford gear. He now has multiple rifles.
This past offseason, Bradley and Evan Marzilli — a center fielder in the D-backs organization — hunted together in Oklahoma. Bradley said the experience is probably his favorite hunting memory. “We cooked all our own meals, we slept in a tent, we didn’t shower for a couple days, and we just kind of really roughed it,” Bradley said.
Bradley and Marzilli have now gone on a hunting trip together twice. He hasn’t, however, successfully lured any of the big league D-backs to join him.
Bradley said people either love hunting or they don’t. There is no in-between. He enjoys watching the sunrise during his hunting trips, but understands some people don’t care about the sunrise.
He also knows hunting is a hot-button topic. Some believe killing animals is wrong. Bradley said he would be stupid and naive to not see that side but called himself a “true hunter.”
“I respect the rules and regulations and it’s something I do,” he said. “I shoot the right amount, I don’t do anything illegal. It’s game, man. It’s fun. It’s really enjoyable. The memories and stories are something I’ll never forget and hopefully will be able to tell for a long time.
“I eat what I kill, I save it. I don’t just kill it to kill it.”
His biggest pet peeve in hunting is people who don’t follow those rules, including those who hunt deer at night with a spotlight, or trespass on someone else’s property. Hunting has many rules to follow and he takes pride in abiding by all of them.
“(There are) a lot of rules that people step outside of, just like cheating in baseball,” he said. Just like every other MLB player, the grind of the 162-game season consumes most of Bradley’s year. But after a season finishes, he immerses himself in something of which he is equally passionate.
“I think my favorite thing about it is the friendships and the trips, the memories from hunting with other people,” Bradley said. “The late-night campfire stories, the things you see on TV that are actually real. We actually do that stuff.” (Justin Toscano-Cronkite News - April 19, 2017)
Jan 4, 2018: In the span of a week in December 2017, D-backs reliever Archie Bradley slid across the ice at an Arizona Coyotes NHL game and dressed up as Santa Claus for a skit with Arizona State University students as part of their famed "Curtain of Distraction" at an NCAA men's basketball game. The appearances showed the fun-loving side of Bradley, who had a breakout season for the D-backs in 2017, compiling a 1.73 ERA in 63 games as the team's top setup man.
"Being involved and being a part of a community," Bradley said of his exploits. "I love Arizona, and I love doing stuff like that." Bradley was at the Coyotes game as part of a friend's bachelor party and was asked to participate in a contest between periods.
Drafted seventh overall out of high school in 2011, Bradley never got to attend college. He had committed to playing quarterback for the University of Oklahoma before the D-backs offered him a $5 million signing bonus. So when he was invited to attend a basketball game at ASU and play a part in trying to distract the opposing players at the free-throw line, the 25-year-old jumped at the chance.
"To see that arena and how loud it is, I mean I didn't go to college so it's kind of like my college experience to be with those kids," Bradley said.
Taking advantage of the opportunities that have been presented to him as a Major Leaguer is nothing new for Bradley. When the D-backs visit a new stadium on the road, it's not uncommon to see Bradley in the upper deck long before the gates open taking a picture for his collection. Two years ago, he asked to meet and take pictures with legendary broadcasters Bob Uecker and Vin Scully.
"I'm just this kid from Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, and I'm pitching in playoff games, I'm meeting Vin Scully and Bob Uecker, I'm on the tour bus with [singer] Jake Owen, I'm doing the 'Curtain of Distraction,' and look, it's not because of my personality or that I'm a great guy," Bradley said. "I get those opportunities because of baseball. And I realize that, and I want to take advantage of it.
"I'm one season away, I'm one pitch away from being done or having a bad year, and that stuff can go away quick. For me, I don't want to sit back. I want to take advantage of it and do things. When my career is over, I want to be able to look back and be like, 'Man, look at what you were able to do, not only baseball-wise, but the people I met, the memories I made, the experiences I had.'"
Bradley knows that should he have a bad season, some will criticize him for doing too much off the field.
"I'm not afraid of that," he said. "I know I'm doing what I have to do to be ready for the baseball season. So, I'm essentially having my cake and eating it too. The reason I'm able to do this stuff is because I'm prepared, because I'm ready to go. And I'm just not afraid to deal with the backlash if I don't perform." (S Gilbert - MLB.com - Jan 4, 2018)
Every Mother's Day brings a special reminder for Archie.
"Obviously my mom having breast cancer and being cancer-free now for 14 years, it's pretty special every year for me," Bradley said. "Last year was kind of the cherry on top when my mom got to throw out the first pitch to me, which was pretty cool. But every year it's just a reminder of how strong of a woman my mom is and how special it is to get to celebrate them through this day." (Gilbert - mlb.com - May 13, 2018)
June 2011: The Diamondbacks chose Bradley as their first round pick, 7th overall, out of Muskogee High School in Muskogee, Oklahoma. He signed for a bonus of $5 million. (Arizona had already taken Trevor Bauer with the third overall pick, also in the first round.)
- Jan 11, 2019: Bradley and the D-backs avoided arbitration, agreeing on a one-year deal.