Friday, January 7, 2011

Just some baseball-playing brothers

It's winter time, the wind is blowing, and the snow is falling. So I thought I'd feature a card of a family that screams BASEBALL!!!!!! We all could use it.

When you live in the Northeast you miss baseball-playing brothers like these. They're hard-core baseball and they're not going to live anywhere where snow gets in the way. That means I didn't get to see or know any of the Bragans, who are legends across the south.

Before you get too excited (like I did), the signatures are facsimiles, except for the one between Bobby and Jimmy. That is Bobby Bragan's actual signature. He signed the card for Tom of The Angels, In Order, who sent it to me.

Bobby, recently deceased almost a year ago to the day, is the most famous of the Bragans and one of those great Dodger mentors. A backup catcher for the Dodgers during the 1940s, Bragan used to "tag along" after owner Branch Rickey. When Rickey announced that Jackie Robinson was going to join the team, Bragan was one of the southern Dodgers who signed a petition asking Rickey not to sign Robinson.

Bragan asked to be traded, but then repented after seeing the quality of Robinson's character. Instead, Rickey assigned Bragan to manage the Dodgers' minor league team in Texas. (Rickey had someone else in mind for catcher -- a guy named Roy). Bragan turned that opportunity into a career, managing in the minors and the majors. He managed for the Pirates, Indians and Braves. He was the Atlanta Braves' first manager. Later he coached for the Dodgers, became president of the Texas League, and established a youth foundation in Fort Worth.

Jimmy Bragan played seven years in the Dodgers' minor league organization before becoming manager of the Bluefield Dodgers. He later scouted for the Reds, became a major league coach for the Reds, Expos and Brewers and was a very successful president of the Southern League for 14 years. He died in 2001.

Peter Bragan played semipro ball, and served in World War II, but is known mostly as an owner. He has owned the Jacksonville Suns since 1985. Jacksonville was the longtime Double A affiliate of the Dodgers (L.A.'s affiliate is now in Chattanooga).

Frank Bragan reached Double A ball in Memphis, where he played for Luke Appling. He was also a commissioned 2nd Lieutenant in the Army.

Lionel Bragan signed with the Pirates and reported to Valdosta, Fla., before he was drafted into the U.S. Navy. He later became chief deputy of the Birmingham Jail and worked there for 35 years. One of the prisoners during his time there was Martin Luther King Jr., who wrote the famous "The Negro Is Your Brother" letter from his cell while confined there in April of 1963.

It's interesting how race traveled through the lives of many of the Birmingham Bragan brothers.

It's also appropriate that I received this card from Tom in the same package:

It is the most recent Nebulous 9 need checked off the list.

I also received two other cards connected to that tumultuous time in baseball and American history:

The Reese card is one of those Vintage Legends cards and the '51 MVPs is a CYMTO. That Campanella "card" doesn't exist. It was a creation of Topps for the 1975 MVPs subset.

Tom also threw in a teammate of Jackie, Roy and Pee Wee, and of Bobby Bragan.

 He was pretty good.

I love writing about baseball when the snow is coming down. It keeps my mind focused on summer and the best sport in the world, by far. I'm sure Bobby Bragan -- who could recite "Casey at the Bat" by heart -- would agree.


  1. Nice to see some Bama Boys.

  2. I've never seen that Pee Wee Reese card before. That's about the coolest thing I've ever seen.