Almost every Little Leaguer has had dreams of pounding out a base hit or gloving a fly ball in a big league ballpark. Not many ever realize those aspirations.
But former Payson High School baseball star Ky Bradley is among the lucky who have experienced that thrill. Bradley's dose of big-time baseball was gulped Sunday afternoon in the Arizona Diamondbacks' Bank One Ballpark. There, he and players from around the state participated in the Arizona Baseball Coaches Association Super 50 All-State Baseball Game.
The clash was contested immediately after the Arizona Diamondbacks humbled the Detroit Tigers 11-2.
Bradley and Payson High coach Teddy Pettet received the invitations to compete in the inaugural Super 50 game at the conclusion of the Class 3A All-Star game held two weeks ago at Grand Canyon University.
The Super 50 contest pitted 25 all-stars from the state's South regions against 25 representing Arizona's North regions. The players recently graduated from schools of all size classifications 1A-2A to 5A.
All-star festivities got swinging at midday Sunday when the players and their coaches reported to Grand Canyon University. After going over the format of the game, they boarded buses that took them to BOB.
Once at the ballpark, the wide-eyed athletes were allowed on the field to watch the Tigers take batting practice. Spying Tiger pitcher Jose Lima sitting alone near the stands, Bradley approached and asked for an autograph.
"He was real easy to talk to. He signed my baseball and gave me one of his wrist bands," Bradley said.
During pregame ceremonies, the Arizona stars were introduced to the Father's Day crowd. The park's jumbo-tron screen scanned the entire field of players.
After warm-ups, the all-star contingent retired to the stands where they watched the Diamondbacks wreak havoc on Detroit pitching.
About the eighth inning, Bradley said, "We went into the auxiliary dressing room to get ready for our game."
When the North team finally took to the field, it featured Bradley as the starting third baseman.
Hitting second in the line-up, Bradley recorded the North's first base hit, swatting an outfield single.
Playing four full innings, he finished 1-for-3 at the plate. Defensively, he did not commit an error.
For the first three innings, Pettet was third-base coach. During his stay, however, the North didn't score.
"I didn't get to wave anyone around," Pettet said.
Playing in the home of the World Champion Diamondbacks was a huge thrill for both Bradley and Pettet.
"It was an awesome, unbelievable ... I really can't explain it," Bradley said.
Pettet agreed, "It was a real neat experience for the kids and the coaches."
One of the highlights for Pettet, he said, was rubbing shoulders with veteran coaches Roy Copplinger of Scottsdale Coronado and David Lagunas of Winkleman Hayden. Both were named honorary coaches for the game.
The North eventually went on to turn an 11-hit attack into a 5-4 win over the South.
Both Bradley and Pettet agreed, however, that the game was much more than just winning and losing.
"It was the honor of being chosen and to be able to play in that park ...
"It's something I'll never forget," Bradley said.
For the North, Show Low's Doug Mathis was credited with the pitching win.