Friday, January 22, 2010
'Mr. Baseball' Bragan dies at 92
By Richard Durrett ESPNDallas.com
FORT WORTH, Texas -- Bobby Bragan, who earned the nickname "Mr. Baseball" and was dedicated to seeing baseball blossom in Fort Worth, died at his Fort Worth home on Thursday night. He was 92.
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"On behalf of Major League Baseball, I am terribly saddened today by the passing of Bobby Bragan," Major League Baseball commissioner Bud Selig said in a statement. "I met Bobby when he was the manager of the Milwaukee Braves and he was a dear friend of mine for nearly 50 years. He had a long and wonderful baseball career as a player, coach, manager and executive. ... All of baseball will miss him."
Bragan, a native of Birmingham, Ala., arrived in Fort Worth in 1948 as a player and manager after parts of seven seasons in the majors, ending up with the Brooklyn Dodgers. He was a backup catcher for the Dodgers before spending two years in the military. He returned for the 1947 season. The Dodgers went on to lose the World Series that year to the New York Yankees, and Bragan had a pinch-hit double in his only World Series plate appearance.
The next season he was in Fort Worth helping the Cats become a winner. He stayed through the 1952 season and his teams won regular-season titles in 1948 and 1949, never finishing below .500 during his tenure.
Bobby Bragan gives tips in the dugout during spring training with the Milwaukee Braves in 1964. Bragan also managed the Atlanta Braves, Pittsburgh Pirates and Cleveland Indians.
"We are dealing with the loss of one of the great ones," former Texas Rangers manager Bobby Valentine told ESPN.com. "He was a true renaissance man. He was amazing, so incredibly special. He had such great knowledge of baseball, such retention. He could talk baseball on one hand, recite poetry on the other. There was no one else quite like him."
Bragan went on to manage in the majors for Pittsburgh (1956-57), Cleveland (1958), Milwaukee (1963-65) and Atlanta (1966). Bragan was the first manager of the Braves after they moved from Milwaukee to Atlanta. He managed Hall of Famers Hank Aaron, Eddie Mathews, Bill Mazeroski, Roberto Clemente, Bob Lemon and Warren Spahn, compiling a 443-478 career record.
Bragan also was a major league coach for the Los Angeles Dodgers and Houston Colt .45s. His minor league managerial stops also included the Hollywood Stars of the Pacific Coast League.
He worked in the 1970s and 1980s as the Texas Rangers' community director of public relations for the team's speakers bureau and remained a special assistant to the club for the past 20 years. The Rangers on Friday lauded his "unmatched legacy."
Bragan returned to Fort Worth after he retired and released his autobiography, "You Can't Hit the Ball with the Bat on your Shoulder: The Life and Times of Bobby Bragan," in 1992. Howard Cosell wrote the forward.
Bragan ended up managing the Cats for one more game, in August 2005, becoming the oldest manager of a professional game. He was 87 at the time, eight days older than Connie Mack, who held the distinction when he finished managing in 1950.
Bragan was an ambassador for the game in the Fort Worth area while helping the community. He served as chairman of the Bobby Bragan Youth Foundation, which provides college scholarships to eighth-grade students from public schools in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.