BOBBY BRAGAN: GOING STRONG AT 92!

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One of my favorite people anywhere, Bobby Bragan, turned 92 years young back on October 30th. I’m sorry it’s taken me this long to acknowledge the fact here in this blog because the man is truly amazing and deserving of all the recognition we can give him.

Number One: The man is all heart. Since 1992, his Bobby Bragan Youth Foundation has raised over $900,000 i support of 367 deserving students. It just gets stronger over time – and that’s just another reason it’s aptly named. It came ┬áinto being at a time in the life of its founder when he would have been more than justified in hanging up his charitable ventures and just moved over to take it easy with his music and other personal entertainments.

Not so Bobby Bragan. He loves kids and wanted to do something material to help those young people who needed a little extra support getting down the road with positive life goals.

Bobby was a feisty infielder-catcher for the Brooklyn Dodgers (1943-44, 47-48) Dodgers after starting his big league career with those awful Philadelphia Phillies teams of 1940-42. He managed the Fort Worth Cats to a couple of first place finishes in the Texas League in 1948 and 1949. Those clubs won the playoff pennant in ’48 and then lost in seven in ’49, setting the stage for Bragan’s ascent to his big league mentoring jobs at Pittsburgh (1956-57), Cleveland (1958), Milwaukee (1963-65), and Atlanta (1966). Bobby also managed at Hollywood during the early 1950s and was also one the original coaching/scouting people for the Houston Colt .45 team when it came into being in 1962.

Bragan was always a run-and-gun manager who didn’t mind mixing it up with the umpires when he felt they had erred in their vision of what was going on in the game. As a result, he was also no stranger to the early shower directives that often result from these expressions of a different viewpoint from the game arbiters.

One of my favorite Bragan stories is about the time he followed Birdie Tebbetts as manager of the Milwaukee Braves in 1963. It seems that Tebbetts had left him with two sealed envelopes, duly marked as “No. 1” and “No. 2”, and each bearing the caution: “Open only in case of crisis.”

After a little more than a year at the helm, Bragan and the ’64 Braves got off to a bad start. Everyone was screaming for Bobby’s head. He decided it was time to open that first envelope from former manager Tebbetts.

The note said: “Blame it on me and the old guys! – Birdie Tebbetts”

Bragan went to the front office and laid it out his way. “You’ve saddled me with an old Adcock, Logan, Bruton, and Burdette,” Bobby protested. “Birdie left me with a terrible team. I can’t win with these old guys here. Get me younger players.”

Bragan weathered the storm when the team improved enough to take the heat off him as manager, but a couple of years later, when the team really hoped to make good during their first season as new 1966 Atlanta Braves, they again began to struggle in the tank. This time the front office, the media, and the fans wanted Bobby’s head in no certain terms.

Bobby decided it was time to check out Birdie Tebbetts second envelope. He went to his desk, pulled it out, ttore it open, and quickly read its very brief message:

“Prepare two more envelopes,” the message read.

112 games into the 1966 season, Bobby Bragan was fired as manager of the Atlanta Braves. He left with a mark of 52 wins, 59 losses, and 1 tie.

Like the Energizer Bunny, Bobby Bragan never stay fired for long. Today he keeps on going and going – and leaving his mark of goodness on everything he touches.

Belated Happy Birthday No. 92, Bobby Bragan! And keep on truckin’, my friend!

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2 Responses to “BOBBY BRAGAN: GOING STRONG AT 92!”

  1. anthony cavender Says:

    Bill: Wasn’t he once a President of the Texas League?

  2. Bill McCurdy Says:

    Tony –

    Yes, Bobby Bragan served as President of the Texas League from 1969 to 1975. It was on his watch that the the Texas League served as the experimental base for the “DH” rule that was adopted by the American League in 1974.

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