Former manager, player Bragan dies

Former manager, player Bragan dies

Bobby Bragan, a former Major League manager and player who was called "Mr. Baseball" for his years of dedication to the game, died Thursday at his home in Fort Worth, Tex. He was 92.

The Bobby Bragan Youth Foundation announced his death via a statement on its web site.

Bragan managed the Pirates, Indians and Braves, and played for the Phillies and Brooklyn Dodgers. He was Atlanta's first manager, after the Braves moved there from Milwaukee prior to the 1966 season, and in August 2005, at age 87, he became the oldest manager in a professional baseball game when he led his former Minor League team, the Fort Worth Cats, for one game.

"[Bragan] leaves an unmatched legacy not only in his beloved Fort Worth but also on a much larger scale," the Texas Rangers said in a statement. "In the 1970s and 1980s, Mr. Bragan was a one-man community relations department in his role of Rangers' director of public relations/speakers bureau. He made hundreds of appearances on behalf of the club, promoting Texas Rangers baseball. Through his efforts, Mr. Bragan helped created countless new Rangers fans and entertained thousands in the process."

Bragan, an infielder and catcher, was the Phillies' regular shortstop from 1940-42 and started catching in 1942 when the team was short on receivers because of injuries and military callups, according to the foundation's statement.

He was traded to the Dodgers prior to the 1943 season and played parts of four seasons for them, finishing after the 1948 season with a .240 batting average in 597 career games. Bragan hit a pinch double in his only World Series plate appearance, in an 8-6 Dodgers win over the Yankees in Game 6 of the 1947 Series.

Bragan's managerial career began as a player/manager for Fort Worth from 1948-52, and his team won two Texas League regular season titles. He became Pittsburgh's manager in 1956 but was replaced during the 1957 season, and he managed the Indians for 67 games in 1957.

He returned to managing in 1963 with the Milwaukee Braves, and had winning records in each of his three full seasons. The Braves won 84, 88 and 86 games in those years but never finished higher than fifth in the 10-team National League. He was dismissed after 112 games in 1966.

"I've always said that Bobby was the first one to let me do some things on the field I always wanted to do," Hall of Famer Hank Aaron, who played for Bragan with the Braves, said in Bragan's 1992 autobiography, "You Can't Hit the Ball With the Bat on Your Shoulder."

"He gave me the green light to run when I wanted. Before, we hadn't had that type of ballclub. We'd just go out and slug away. Bobby showed faith in me. It meant a lot."

Bragan, a fixture in Fort Worth, was inducted into the Texas Sports Hall of Fame in 2005.

"We are dealing with the loss of one of the great ones," former Rangers manager Bobby Valentine told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. "He was amazing, a renaissance man. If I could accomplish even half of what he did in his 93 years, I'd die a happy man. He will be truly, truly missed."

Bobbie Dittmeier is an editor/producer for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.