Jackie Bradley Jr. takes batting practice with Gamecocks
South Carolina baseball has two College World Series titles in program history — the same number of World Series rings won by former Gamecocks in Major League Baseball.
Starting Tuesday, Jackie Bradley Jr. and Steve Pearce will try to double that number.
Bradley Jr. and Pearce are both making their World Series debuts for the Boston Red Sox as they get set to face the Los Angeles Dodgers. If Boston, the favorite, can win the best-of-seven set, they will join a small group of USC alums — the only other former players to win a World Series ring are Mookie Wilson and Ed Lynch, both with the 1986 New York Mets.
Wilson and Lynch’s stories from that series and season could hardly be more different. Wilson was involved in one of the most famous plays in baseball history, hitting the fateful ball that rolled through Boston Red Sox first baseman Bill Buckner’s legs in extra innings to extend the legendary “Curse of the Bambino.” Lynch, meanwhile, made one appearance for the Mets that year, pitching 1 2/3 innings before getting injured and then traded to the Chicago Cubs. Still, he received a ring, according to the Society for American Baseball Research.
Similarly, Bradley Jr. and Pearce have taken different routes to their first World Series — Pearce has played on seven different MLB teams in a journeyman 12-year career and was traded to the Red Sox halfway through the 2018 season, while Bradley Jr. has spent his entire career in Boston, becoming a fan favorite for his dazzling defensive plays and earning All-Star honors in 2016.
The two never crossed paths at South Carolina either, but they said Monday at the World Series media day that they have still bonded over their alma mater and are close, according to Mike Uva of WACH-FOX.
Fans got to see some of that closeness in the American League Championship Series, as the two flashed the “Spurs Up” hand signal after a game. The moment was caught on TV and quickly spread on social media, where athletic director Ray Tanner, who coached both men, tweeted about it.
Now, Bradley Jr. will try to add to his two College World Series titles, while Pearce will go for his first title, professional or collegiate. ESPN has Bradley Jr. ranked as the 15th best player in the Series, with Pearce coming in at No. 35, but as Gamecock fans know, Bradley Jr. has a history of playing well on the biggest stages, winning Most Outstanding Player at the 2010 College World Series.
WORLD SERIES HOW TO WATCH
Who: Boston Red Sox vs. Los Angeles Dodgers
When: Game 1 — Tuesday, 8:09 p.m.
Game 2 — Wednesday, 8:09 p.m.
Game 3 — Friday, 8:09 p.m.
Game 4 — Saturday, 8:09 p.m.
Game 5 — Sunday, 8:15 p.m.*
Game 6 — Tuesday, Oct. 30, 8:09 p.m.*
Game 7 — Wednesday, Oct. 31, 8:09 p.m.*
TV: All games on FOX
Gamecock alums: Jackie Bradley Jr. — center field, Boston Red Sox; Steve Pearce — utility/first base, Boston Red Sox