Robert Randall Bragan (Nig)
Bats Right, Throws Right
Weight 175 lb.
Debut April 16, 1940
Final Game June 27, 1948
Born October 30, 1917 in
Robert Randall Bragan (born October 30, 1917, at Birmingham, Alabama) is a former shortstop, catcher, manager, and coach in Major League Baseball. He also was an influential executive in minor league baseball. On August 16, 2005, Bragan came out of retirement to manage the independent Central League Fort Worth Cats for one game, making him - at 87 years, nine months and 16 days old - the oldest manager in professional baseball annals (besting by one week Connie Mack, the legendary and Hall of Fame skipper and part owner of the Philadelphia Athletics). Always known as an innovator with a sense of humor - and a world-class umpire-baiter - Bragan was ejected in the third inning of his "comeback" and enjoyed the rest of the Cats' 11-10 victory from a more comfortable vantage point.
During his major league career, Bragan never skippered a game past his 49th birthday. He managed the Pittsburgh Pirates (1956-57), Cleveland Indians (1958) and Milwaukee/Atlanta Braves (1963-66), each time getting fired in the mid-season of his final campaign (in Cleveland, he lasted a total of only 67 games of his maiden season before his dismissal). His career record in the major leagues was below .500: 443-478 (.481).
But Bragan was highly respected as a minor league pilot, winning championships in 1948-49 at Fort Worth of the AA Texas League during a successful five-year run, and with the 1953 Hollywood Stars of the Open-Classification Pacific Coast League. A photograph of Bragan lying at the feet of an umpire who had ejected him, still arguing, was published in LIFE Magazine at the time. Bragan also was a major league coach for the Los Angeles Dodgers and Houston Colt .45s.
Bragan was a protégé of Branch Rickey, the Hall of Fame front office executive, who hired him as an unproven young manager at Fort Worth when both were with the Brooklyn Dodgers and then brought Bragan to Hollywood and Pittsburgh, where Rickey was general manager from 1951-55. Ironically, Bragan clashed with Rickey in 1947 over the Dodgers' breaking of the baseball color line after the major-league debut of Jackie Robinson. Bragan was one of a group of white players, largely from the American South, who signed a petition against Robinson's presence. He even asked Rickey to trade him. But Bragan quickly relented. "After just one road trip, I saw the quality of Jackie the man and the player," Bragan told mlb.com in 2005. "I told Mr. Rickey I had changed my mind and I was honored to be a teammate of Jackie Robinson." And as a manager, Bragan earned a reputation for fairness and "color-blindedness."
He began his seven-year (1940-44; 1947-48) major league playing career as a shortstop for the Philadelphia Phillies, but by 1943, his first season with Brooklyn, he had learned how to catch and was for the most part a backup receiver for the Dodgers for the remainder of his MLB playing days. A righthanded batter, Bragan hit .240 in 597 games, with 15 career home runs.
In 1969, Bragan, a Fort Worth resident, began a new career chapter when he became president of the Texas League. He was so successful, in 1975 he was elected president of the minor leagues' governing body, the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues. Bragan comes from a baseball family. His late brother Jimmy was a minor league player and longtime coach and scout in major league baseball who himself was president of the AA Southern League during the 1980s, and the younger generations of the Bragan family have owned and operated numerous minor league teams.
Some Higlights in Bobby Bragan's Career
» July 10, 1943: Brooklyn scores 10 runs in the first and fourth innings as they whip the visiting Pirates 23-6. This follows a pregame attempted strike by the players following Leo Durocher's 3-game suspension of P Bobo Newsom for insubordination. Minutes before the game SS Arky Vaughan handed his uniform to Durocher and refused to play. Durocher called for volunteers to play, but by game time he had just a battery of Curt Davis and Bobby Bragan. Branch Rickey intervened, and Vaughan and the others agreed to play. Newsom, 9-4, will be traded to the Browns on July 15th.
» November 2, 1955: The Pirates name Bobby Bragan as their new field manager, replacing Fred Haney.
» July 31, 1957: The Pirates lose to the Braves and Bob Buhl 4-2. Bucs manager Bobby Bragan is ejected in the bottom of the fifth for making obscene gestures. Before he departs, he strolls onto the field sipping an orange drink through a straw and offers the umpires a drink. Two days later Bragan will be fired by the Pirates.
» August 3, 1957: The news that Danny Murtaugh will succeed Bobby Bragan as manager of the Pittsburgh Pirates is leaked to the press, and Bragan hears it on the radio before Joe L. Brown can inform him.
» September 29, 1957: Bobby Bragan signs with Cleveland to replace manager Kirby Ferrell, released two days earlier.
» June 26, 1958: Joe Gordon replaces Bobby Bragan as manager of the Cleveland Indians, signing a contract through 1959.
» July 30, 1965: Milwaukee manager Bobby Bragan says his pitchers threw 75 to 80 spitballs in a 9–2 loss to the Giants. Bragan says he ordered the spitters to prove rules against them are not being enforced.
» August 9, 1966: The Braves fire Bobby Bragan (52-59) and install coach Billy Hitchcock as their new manager.
» April 7, 1976: At Aloha Stadium in Hawaii, a controversy arises about metal cleats prior to a PCL game with Tacoma. Despite the ban on the cleats in the stadium, Tacoma P Bill Butler insists on wearing them and stadium officials switch off the lights during warm-up. Thirty minutes to game, umpire Bill Lawton awards a forfeit to Tacoma since the home team is responsible for playing conditions. The PCL will uphold the forfeit, but minor league prexy bobby Bragan will overrule it (according to historian Rich Marazzi).
» May 7, 1976: At Honolulu's Aloha Stadium, in a PCL game between the Tacoma Twins and Hawaii, Twins P Bill Butler ignores the stadium ban against metal cleats and begins warming up. Stadium officials then turn the outfield lights off, and after 30 minutes of darkness, umpire Bill Lawson forfeits the game to Tacoma. PCL President Roy Jackson supports the umpire, but a few weeks later, Minor League head Bobby Bragan overrules Jackson and orders the game replayed.
March 24, 1943: Traded by the Philadelphia Blue Jays to the Brooklyn Dodgers for Jack Kraus and cash.
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