Brad Lidge life and biography

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Brad Lidge biography

Date of birth : 1976-12-23
Date of death : -
Birthplace : Sacramento, California
Nationality : American
Category : Sports
Last modified : 2010-11-04
Credited as : Baseball player MLB, pitcher with the Philadelphia Phillies,

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Bradley Thomas Lidge was born on December 23, 1976 in Sacramento, California. His parents, Debbie and Ralph Lidge Jr, also had a daughter, Kitty. Though his father wasn't a baseball fanatic, Brad developed a deep passion for the sport. His loyalties as a fan were split.

One of his fondest childhood memories was Kirk Gibson's Game 1 home run off Dennis Eckerlsey in the 1988 World Series. An outfielder himself, Brad often imagined what it would be like to repeat Gibby's feat. But the Lidges also spent a lot of summer vacations in Chicago. Brad's grandfather, Ralph Sr., took him to plenty of Cubs games at Wrigley.

Ralph Jr. didn't get the baseball gene, but that didn't prevent him from working with his son to improve him game. Brad and his dad regularly enjoyed games of catch. But their workouts never included Brad practicing as a pitcher. Through Little League and American Legion ball, the teenager played the outfield exclusively. He was a good hitter and fielder, but his arm usually drew the most attention.

The Lidges liked California, but eventually settled in Colorado, in the Denver area. Brad enrolled in Cherry Creek High School, which boasted one of the top athletic programs in the state. His love of baseball grew in his new surroundings, particularly given how much fun it was to root for the free-swinging Rockies, whose lineup included Andres Galarraga, Larry Walker, Dante Bichette and Vinny Castilla.

Brad barely got a sniff of the varsity in his first few years at Cherry Creek. In fact, he realized during his junior season in 1997 that his future in baseball was no longer as an outfielder. The Bruins were stacked there, including a phenom named Darnell McDonald, who would go in the first round to the Baltimore Orioles.

The following year, Cherry Creek coach Mark Johnson suggested to Brad that he become a full-time pitcher. The senior didn’t argue. He began the year in the bullpen, but got a chance to start when injuries hit the rotation. Brad took full advantage of the opportunity. An All-State selection, he led the Bruins to the Class 5A state championship.

Brad's rise to stardom caught everyone by surprise. But it didn't take Johnson long to recognize that Brad was the real deal. The Cherry Creek coach doubled as a scout for the Astros, and he had seen his fair share of big-league talent come through the Bruin system. In fact, the Rockies had made pitcher Scott Elarton their first pick in 1993.

Brad was also drafted out of high school, but not until the 42nd round by the San Francisco Giants. Aware he required more seasoning before he was ready for the bigs, Brad accepted a full-ride to Notre Dame. Though hardly a baseball powerhouse, the Fighting Irish played in the Big East, which guaranteed that Brad would face good competition and get a good look from pro scouts.

They didn’t see much during Brad’s freshman year. He never topped 90 mph on the radar gun and logged less than 12 innings on the entire season. His next campaign was uneventful too, as an elbow bone contusion cut his year short. The injury lingered through the summer, so he also missed a chance to pitch in the Cape Cod League.


Brad came into his own as a junior at Notre Dame. He had always been a highly coachable kid, and no one had ever questioned his desire to turn himself into a star. By the spring of 1998, he had harnessed the power and control in his arm to match his attitude. In mid-March, he was named Big East pitcher of the week after blanking Southwest Texas State over seven innings. His best performance came a short time later against Pitt, as he fanned 12 and allowed just two hits in a 12-1 victory.

Brad finished the year at 8-2 with a 4.15 ERA. Featuring a lively fastball and biting breaking pitch, he struck out 93 hitters in 80 innings. Duly impressed, scouts projected him as a first-round pick. Brad waited as patiently as he could as the draft unfolded. Sitting with friends and family, he listened to the proceedings via an Internet hook-up. He felt like a kid on Christmas Eve.

Brad fully expected to go at #16 to the Chicago White Sox. Among those selected before him were Pat Burrell, JD Drew and Sean Burroughs. But when it came time for the South Siders to pick, they opted for Kip Wells out of Rice. Up next were the Astros, who didn't hesitate, grabbing Brad and assigning him to Quad Cities in the Class A Midwest League.

Brad was inserted into the starting rotation and looked good in his first four starts. But a case elbow tendonitis developed soon after, and his season ended early. Still, the Astros liked what they saw from him. For the 1999 campaign, the club promoted Brad to the Kissimee Cobras of the Florida State League.

Unfortunately, his sore elbow was slow to heal, sidelining him for the season’s first two months. Ironically, the injury was a result of what Brad did off the mound. When long-tossing, he had tendency to drop his elbow, which put more stress on his arm. Correcting this flaw had a hugeimpact. In 21 innings with Kissimee, Brad allowed just 13 hits and fanned 19. But the injury bug bit again. This is time it was a sprained elbow ligament. Brad watch most his his second pro season from the bench.

Hoping to shake his injury jinx, Brad opened the 2000 campaign in Kissimee. Early in the season he was drawing rave reviews. Indeed, his hard-breaking slider had the Houston brass thinking of another Astros power pitcher, J.R. Richard. Before too long, however, Brad again found himself of the DL. In a late June start, he took a liner off his right wrist. Diagnosed with a fracture of the ulna bone, he had a plate inserted in his forearm. Determined to pitch again in 2000, Brad returned in time for a few appearances in the Arizona Fall League.

Months later Brad went under the knife on his problematic right elbow. The surgery set him back the following spring. In fact, perhaps pushing too hard to come back, he developed tendonitis in his right shoulder. Not wanting to take any chances, the Astros scheduled more surgery. Brad began to wonder if he would ever realize his dream and reach the majors.

He got the answer he was hoping for in 2002. Brad began the season in Double-A Round Rock, where the Astros switched him to the bullpen. Their reasoning was sound. Given his history of arm trouble and the fact that he had two dominant pitches, they felt regular work as a reliever would keep him fresh and strong. The experiment was an unqualified success. In his first five appearances, he struck out 18 hitters in just 11 innings. In April, Houston rewarded Brad with a call-up to the big club. While he struggled against major-league batters, the experience did wonders for his confidence.

Upon being sent back down to the minors, Brad joined Triple-A New Orleans. There he was added to the starting rotation, a somewhat curious mover given his success as a reliever with Round Rock. But Brad adjusted well and proved his arm was fully healthy. He logged more than 100 innings with the Zephyrs.

In September, The Astros re-called Brad. With Houston fighting for a playoff spot, however, he didn’t figure to see much action. Still, Brad collected his first big-league win in front of family and friends in Colorado, throwing a shutout inning against the Rockies. So excited by the victory, he leaped in the dugout, banged his head on the ceiling and almost knocked himself out.

While Brad was seeing stars, the Astros had seen all they needed to from him. Though the team fell short of the post-season, Houston entered spring training of 2003 with high hopes. Roy Oswalt and Wade Miller paced a young, strong-arm staff, while Craig Biggio, Jeff Bagwell, Jeff Kent and Lance Berkman led the way on offense. In the bullpen, manager Jimy Williams had a dominant one-two punch in set-up man Octavio Dotel and closer Billy Wagner. Brad was added to the mix to give the Astros an excellent seventh-inning option.

He was terrific in his first month, winning twice and posting a 1.02 ERA through April. But the rigors of his first full season in the bigs wore him down. Brad's ERA after the All-Star break ballooned to over 5.00. The Astros, meanwhile, were in a dogfight with the Cubs for the division title. With Chicago surging, Houston wound up on the outside looking in, edged out by a single game in the standings.

Despite the team's disappointing finish, Brad merited consideration as the NL’s top rookie. He went 6-3 with a 3.60 ERA, and fanned 97 in 85 innings. Opponents hits just .202 against him, and in August he picked up his first career save.

Major changes greeted the Astros in 2004. With Wagner set to become a free agent after the season, Houston dealt the lefty to Philadelphia for a trio of young hurlers. The move bumped up Brad to set-up man for Dotel, who was handed the closer’s job. Meanwhile, the Astros signed Roger Clemens and Andy Pettitte to fill out their rotation.

As the calendar turned to June, the Astros felt they needed a boost. With their offense floundering, they shipped Dotel to the AL in three-team deal with Oakland and Kansas City. In return Houston picked up free-agent-to-be Carlos Beltran. For Brad, the deal meant he was now the team's closer. After two years of watching Wagner and Dotel, he believed he was ready.

Initially, the trade did nothing to lift the Astros. Houston continued to struggle to score runs, and outside of Oswalt and Clemens, the starting rotation was in shambles, particularly with Pettitte and Miller on the DL. While Brad had adjusted seamlessly to his new job, save opportunities didn’t come as often as anyone hoped.


In August, the Astros suddenly caught fire. With Phil Garner in as manager, they launched a furious drive for the Wild Card. Nearly 20 games behind the front-running St. Louis Cardinals in the Central, Houston pulled into a dead heat for the Wild Card with the Giants, Cubs and Padres by late September. Beltran carried the load at the plate, while Brad completely shut down opponents. Garner often used him for more than an inning to lock down a victory.

At season’s end, the Astros celebrated their return to the playoffs, while Brad was hailed as one of baseball’s elite closers. In 94.2 innings, he converted 29 of 33 save opportunitie, and fanned 157 batters. His strikeout total was the fourth-best all-time by a reliever.

The Astros opened the post-season against the Braves in Atlanta. Houston managed a split on the road, but could have walked away with a pair of victories had not Brad given up the go-ahead run in the seventh. But he rebounded with a save in Game 3, as the Astros took the series lead. Though the Braves evened things up in Game 4, Houston won the next two to advance to the NL Championship Series against St. Louis.

The Cards jumped the Astros early, with back-to-back victories at home. With Houston trailing late in both games, Brad saw no action. Garner made sure, however, that his closer got the ball when the series moved to Texas. Brad threw 41 pitches to save Game 3, and then logged two more innings for another in Game 4. It was a similar scenario in Game 5, except this time Brad earned a victory.

Back in St. Louis with a chance to close out the series, Garner went for it in Game 6, using Brad for three innings in a tie contest. When Houston couldn't score with him on the mound, the NCLS turned in the Cards' favor. St. Louis won 6-4, and then took Game 7 when Clemens didn't have his best stuff.

Brad finished playoffs with eye-popping numbers, including 20 Ks in 12.2 innings and an 0.73 ERA. Garner, meanwhile, got hammered for what many felt was the misuse of his closer.

Houston came into 2005 shorthanded after Beltran signed with the New York Mets and Kent inked a deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers. Adding to their problems was a knee injury suffered by Berkman in a pick-up hoops game. The good news? Pettitte was back at full strength, and Clemens agreed to pitch another year

Garner cobbled together a lineup that didn't plate a lot of runs, but scored enough to stay in the Wild Card race. Third baseman Morgan Ensberg provided the biggest lift, finally living up to his potential as a bona fide slugger. Rookie Willie Taveras also contributed, adding much needed speed to the offense.

Houston's pitching was the real story, however. Oswalt anchored the top of the rotation, Clemens amazed fans with another solid season and Pettitte quietly produced one of the league's best records. Brad dominated again, too.

Though Garner used him less often, his numbers improved in almost every category. Brad notched 42 saves and struck out 103 against just 24 walks in 70.2 innings.He also made his first All-Star appearance. Pitching the seventh against the AL, he struck out the side swinging, sitting down Melvin Mora, Mike Sweeney and Garret Anderson in succession.

Behind the trio of Oswalt, Clemens and Pettitte, the Astros captured Wild Card for the second year in a row. Again they faced the Braves in the Division Series. Houston won in four, including a thrilling 17-inning victory in Game 4. Brad pitched in three of the games, but not in an save situations.

The NLCS against the Cards was a different story. In a rematch from '04, the Astros got their revenge, beating St. Louis in six games. But one bad pitch from Brad almost turned the series. After saving Game 2 and Game 3, he entered Game 5 with a chance to close out the Cardinals. But Albert Pujols greeted him with a mammoth home run for a 5-4 win. Oswalt responded two nights later with a gem in St. Louis to put the Astros into the World Series for the first time in franchise history.

To his credit, Brad didn't shy away from the media after his blown save. His teammates appreciated his moxie and supported him unconditionally. They also took the opportunity for some good-natured ribbing. On the flight from Houston to St. Louis after Game 5, someone looked out a window and announced he had just seen Pujols's blast soar by the plane.

Brad had more questions to answer after Game 2 of the World Series against the White Sox. With the score tied 6-6 in the bottom of the ninth, he surrendered a walk-off homer to light-hitting Scott Podsednik. Again, Brad offered no excuses, simply saying that Podsednik had gotten better of him. Jermaine Dye did as well in Game 4, as the Sox completed their sweep with a 1-0 win. Dye's single off Brad plated the contest's only run.

Lights Out Lidge was anything but in 2006. The Astros used him in 78 games and he notched 32 saves and held batters to a .238 average, but there were more than a few adventures. Brad blew eight saves, threw 11 wild pitches and turned in a 5.17 ERA. He struggled at home, where early season cheers began turning to boos. His best work came in the first half, when he had 21 saves.

Brad wasn’t the team’s only problem in '06, but had the Astrosgotten back half of his blown saves and losses they would have slipped into the post-season. As it was, they followed up their pennant-winning campaign with a lackluster 82–80 mark.

Brad’s inconsistency reappeared in the spring of 2007, and the Astros demoted him to middle relief. Hitters were teeing off on him, almost as if they knew what was coming. The fastball wasn't what it was, and the bite was missing from his slider. Critics suggested that overuse may have brought back some of his old elbow woes. Brad insisted this was not the case. He also scoffed at comments about the fragility of his psyche after the Pujols homer in 2005.

Brad worked his way back to the top of the bullpen by the end of July and finished the year as Houston’s closer. He had 19 saves, eight blown saves, and a 5–3 record.

The Astros did not have anyone to replace Brad in 2008, but they knew it was time to bid him adieu. They found a willing taker in the Phillies, a power-laden team whose Achilles heel was the lack of a closer. The Philadelphia brass felt that Brad would benefit from a change of scenery and offered up speedy Michael Bourn in return. The pundits wondered how the town’s notoriously picky fans would react to Brad's first blown save. The gamble, however, had a huge upside for the team. If Brad thrived, it would mean that Brett Myers could return to the starting rotation. Myers’s previous stint as an emergency closer had screwed up his mechanics and made him an ineffective starter in 2007.

Brad’s career in Philly got off to a shaky start in spring training. He tore the meniscus in his right knee and had to undergo arthroscopic surgery. His recovery kept him out of games until early April. He used this time to focus on his mechanics and control. Typically during spring training, Brad had concentrated on getting his speed up toward triple digits. In this case, he just wanted to make sure his arm and his head were ready when his knee was.

By the end of May, Brad was looking like his old self. He was 12-for-12 in save opportunities. His big test came on Philadelphia’s first trip into Houston. There was a smattering of applause when he walked to the mound to hold a ninth-inning lead, but mostly he heard boos. With his fastball and slider clicking, he tore through the Astros to nail down his 12th save of the year.

Brad was still perfect as the All-Star Break neared. The Phillies, feeling they had solved their bullpen woes, inked him to a three-year contract extension. Ironically, Brad’s only disappointing outing in the first half came in the Midsummer Classic. After warming up six times, he entered the game in the 15th inning and gave up the winning sac fly.

With Brad converting save after save, the Phillies stayed close to the Mets in the standings and then overtook them in September. The boo birds in Philly never got to go after Brad. He came into the game in save situations 41 times and finished with 41 saves. He did not suffer a single defeat, and finished the year with a 1.95 ERA and 92 strikeouts in 69.1 innings. Without Brad in the pen, the Phillies might not have made the post-season. Some aid he deserved the Cy Young Award.

Pitching in the playoffs again, Brad got thrown right into the fire. In Game 1 of the NLDS, the Phillies put up a three-spot early, and Cole Hamels kept the Milwaukee Brewers off the board. Brad entred the contest in the ninth with a 3–0 lead. The Philly faithful cringed as he gave up a run and allowed the Brewers to put the tying runs on second and third. But Brad wriggled out of the jam by blowing away Prince Fielder and Corey Hart. One night later, he notched his second save with a perfect ninth to give the Phillies a 5–2 win. Philadelphia closed out the series a few days later in Milwaukee. Brad pitched the final innning in a 6-2 victory.

Brad continued his dominance in the NLCS against the Dodgers. He saved three of Philly's four wins and was on the mound for the clinching victory in Game 5. In his four appearances, Brad gave up just two hits and struck out six. Coles Hamels was named series MVP. He tipped his cap to Brad for achoring the bullpen behind him.

In the World Series against the Tampa Bay Rays, Brad was nearly untouchable again. He picked up the save in Game 1, working a spotless ninth. Brad didn't see action again until Game 5, with the Phils one win away from their first championship since 1980. He came on in the ninth to protect a 4-3 lead. Dioner Navarro singled off of him with one out, but Brad beared down. He fanned Eric Hinske to seal the deal.

Afterwards, Brad was asked if he felt vindicated. He said that the thought never crossed his mind.

Brad's '05 post-season failings aside, no one questions his ability or his attitude. Consider that he was perfect in 2008, saving 47 games in 47 opportunities. He has always been an easy guy to root for, first for the way he fought back from injuries and also for how he has consistently owned up to his mistakes. His odyssey to reliever hell and back only strengthened his resolve and character. Brad’s story has been billed as a tale of redemption, and that may be so. But there should be a better word for what he accomplished in 2008. Perfection is a rare thing in baseball, and the way Brad achieved it makes his success even sweeter.


Brad’s slider is among baseball’s best. In fact, he must be reminded at times to throw his fastball, which tops out in the high 90s (but has been known to touch triple digits). Brad can get into trouble when relies too much on his slider. But when he mixes in his heater, batters are helpless. Brad disguises his slider well, making it look like his fastball when he delivers it. This has been crucial to his success, especially given the home parks he has pitched in, where hangers can turn into homers in a hurry.

The arm problems that plagued Brad early in his career were mostly the result of faulty mechanics. When coaches convinced him to drop his arm angle, the stress on his shoulder and elbow lessened.

Brad doesn’t mess around with hitters. He annually averages among the fewest pitches per batter and inning. Teammates and coaches love his aggressive style. It's rare that he gets beat with anything less than his best stuff.


# Brad was only the second player in Notre Dame history taken before the third round of the baseball draft. The first was catcher Ken Piesha in 1965.
# Brad would probably have been drafted by the Colorado Rockies, but the team had surrendered it’s first-round pick the year before when it signed Darryl Kile.
# Brad stuck out the side in his Major League debut, fanning Jay Payton, Todd Helton and Jason Romano.
# Brad was never more nervous to ask for an autograph than when he approached teammate Roger Clemens in spring training of 2004.
# In 2006, Brad became the first reliever since Eric Gagne to record three straight 100-strikeout seasons.
# Brad pitched for the U.S. in the 2006 World Baseball Classic.
# Brad threw a pitch clocked at 102 mph in 2006.
# Brad’ save against the Milwaukee Brewers in Game 1 of the 2008 NLDS was the first for a Phillies pitcher in the postseason since Mitch Williams in 1993.
# Brad was named Comeback Player of the Year and Rolaids Relief Man of the Year in 2008.
# Brad finished 2008 with the highest career strikeouts per nine innings pitched in history among those with 200-plus appearances.
# Brad is one of the three Houston relievers to save 100 games for the team.
# Brad and former Astros teammate Chris Burke once had a sushi eating contest. They tied at 55 pieces each.
# When Notre Dame fell to USC in football in the fall of 2005, Brad lost a bet with Ensberg and Mike Lamb, and had to wear a Trojans t-shirt for the rest of his post-game interviews.
# If Brad wasn’t a big leaguer, he says he would be either a history teacher or an archeologist.
# Brad’s sister Kitty has sung the National Anthem before Astros home games.
# When Brad entered a game in Houston, the Astros played “The Game” by Drowning Pool.

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