I first met Brad when he was with the Brewers organization a few years ago. He is one of the players that we have followed and supported regardless of where he played. We even dubbed ourselves “Nelson’s Knuckleheads” as we blatantly made it obvious that he was one of “our guys.” One of the fondest memories was the first year we went to Spring Training, sitting in the grass in right field at Maryvale. Whenever Corey Hart was out there, (since we are also the Condor Fan Club), we’d yell “Hey Condor, how many outs?” and he would respond by putting up two fingers. Mr. Nelson took his place, and I figured why not, so when there were two outs, I yelled, “Hey Nelson, how many outs?” He proceeded to look at the scoreboard, back at us, and threw up two outs. Not realizing that there were only 3000 people there, I look at Jay Mack and say, “Hey Jay, he had to look at the scoreboard!” Yep, pretty sure Brad and anybody in right field heard me. Next inning, I didn’t even have to ask, Brad looked back, grinned, and just threw up the two outs signal. We loved it! Thus began Nelson’s Knuckleheads.
I was very privileged this past Spring Training to watch a few innings of Rangers ball with Brad. Here is his interview, and a look into a 12 year career.
SuperfanPete (SFP): So here you are, playing 1st base for Round Rock Express. How did you get here? What road led to this point in time, and what obstacles have you overcome, and where do you see yourself going?
Brad Nelson (BN):“This is my 2nd year playing for the [Round Rock] Express, but my 12th professional season. I’ve had a nice long career and like most, it’s had its ups and downs. In 2001 I was drafted in the 4th round by the Milwaukee Brewers and I decided to sign the minor league contract instead of going to the University of Nebraska to study and play [college] baseball. I worked my way up with the Brewers and enjoyed getting my first call up at the end of the ’08 season. Fortunately, we made the playoffs that season, and I was part of the Playoff Experience with them. The next season, I had a good spring training and made the Big League team. That year, unfortunately, it went from an extreme high to a low very fast. By mid-May, I was let go by the Brewers and found a job with the Seattle Mariners, and I headed to AAA Tacoma Rainiers. I finished the ’09 season there and I signed back with them the next year as well. That then lead me to Round Rock for the last two seasons.
I have enjoyed each and every season! I’ve traveled t0 so many places and met so many new people that I keep saying, what amazing things God has brought to me just from playing the game of baseball.
SFP: At what point in your life did you say “I want to be a baseball player”?
BN: We grew up on a farm but my Dad really loved sports, so any free time he had it seems like we were outside playing sports. That really started my love for the game. As far as the point in life when I said it, that would probably be when I was shown a paper I wrote in 4th grade saying that, “when i grew up I wanted to be a Professional Baseball Player.”
SFP: If you had a time machine, and could go back to any point in history to meet any person, who would it be and why?
BN: I’m thinking baseball for this question. My sister gave me the baseball documentary done by Ken Burns and I enjoy the history of the game altogether, but i really enjoy the years with Ted Williams, Mantle, Musial, to mention a few.
SFP: What was your first big/fun purchase to reward yourself for you achievements?
BN: I really tried to wait and be smart with the money I have made. I bought a car a couple years into pro-ball and ended up selling it to my sister soon after. Then I had always wanted a truck, so I would say my truck is the first [fun purchase] and it means the most and I’m still putting a lot of miles on it.
SFP: What is your favorite movie and actor/actress?
BN: Christmas Vacation is always a classic that makes me laugh time and time again. [SFP Approves!]
SFP: If you didn’t play baseball, what career path do you see yourself in?
BN: I really wish I could answer this question better. I’ve been very blessed to play this game as long as I have and keep working hard to continue my dream that I’ve had since a little kid. My family does farm back in Iowa but I’d have a lot of learning to do if I ever chose that route in the future.
SFP: What sets you apart from every other player in your position/ What do you do different that other guys can’t do?
BN: Now I feel experience is on my side. I’ve been through a lot of different situations that I have excelled at and also learned from my mistakes. Once Prince [Fielder] was drafted behind me I feel it helped my career as far as moving to the outfield and being versatile. Having the Rangers being in the American league and having the Designated Hitter [position] I really feel helps my game as well. The love of the game is still there for me and I feel I’ll try to keep playing this game as long as that fire is still burning.
SFP: What do you like to do for fun outside of the ballpark?
BN: My wife and I bought a house about 3 years ago, so when the season is over I really enjoy being home. We enjoy going to Iowa Hawkeye sporting events and seeing and being around family is always high on my list as well.
SFP: What is your favorite band/musician/artist?
BN: Country music!!!
Thank you for the interview Brad. The Superfans will be in touch. Keep on living your dream, you are an inspiration to the rest of us. Congrats on a great season with Round Rock Express, and we look forward to seeing you next year.