Friday, January 22, 2010

Bobby Bragan, 92, former major league manager dubbed "Mr. Baseball," dies at Fort Worth home

Bobby Bragan, a former major league manager dubbed "Mr. Baseball" for his decades of dedication to the game, has died.

A statement Friday on the website for the Bobby Bragan Youth Foundation announced his death Thursday night at his Fort Worth home. Bragan was 92.

In August 2005, Bragan earned the distinction as the oldest manager of a pro baseball game by leading his former minor league team, the Fort Worth Cats. At the time he was 87.

Bragan, a native of Birmingham, Ala., was a shortstop and catcher during his playing days.

Bragan spent seven seasons as a major league manager for Pittsburgh (1956-57), Cleveland (1958) and the Milwaukee (1963-65) and Atlanta (1966) Braves. He managed Hall of Famers Hank Aaron, Eddie Mathews and Warren Spahn, and compiled a record of 443-478.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

A vote for baseball museum at Al Lang Field

A museum of baseball at Al Lang Field is the perfect solution to what to do with this venerable St. Petersburg landmark.

Spring training is almost as old as the sport itself and our fair city has been intimately linked with the preseason games almost since the beginning. While spring training first came to Florida with pre-season games in Jacksonville in 1888, St. Petersburg made the "Grapefruit League" a reality. Our first baseball game was played on Feb. 27, 1914, after Mayor Al Lang persuaded the St. Louis Browns to train in St. Petersburg. On that day, the Browns lost to the Chicago Cubs, who were training in Tampa and made the trip across the bay by steamboat. Lang then lured the Philadelphia Phillies to St. Petersburg in 1915. No wonder civic leaders later named their first baseball stadium after the city's most famous baseball fan.

Since the history of baseball is so intertwined with spring training and St. Petersburg, this is the perfect place to create a museum to that beloved aspect of the sport. With the building of the new Salvador DalĂ­ Museum, St. Petersburg's (heck, why not call it Florida's?) Museum of Spring Training could be the center of what would quickly be dubbed "The Museum Mile," further reinforcing St. Petersburg's blossoming cultural reputation.

The museum could quickly become a must-do stop for all the baseball fans who flock to Florida. Each team that practiced here could be invited to create its own display. Kids could enjoy practicing their batting in the same cage the big guys do. Families could walk the same paths that Babe Ruth once strolled.

The Preservation Society can create a whole new tour, "The History of Spring Training in St. Petersburg," which would start right at the museum.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Interesting story about the 1947 Browns and Vern Stephens

Thanks to Dwayne Isgrig for this contribution.

The following is an excerpt from the St Louis Globe-Democrat, September 29, 1947. It is from "The Bench Warmer" column by Robert L. Burnes.

One of the nicest gestures of which we have heard in a long time is being turned by the Browns, who did not have too much to be happy about this baseball season.

But with the end of the season yesterday the Globe-Democrat’s Star of the Game contest came to a close and the Browns had a sizable sum of money coming to them.

Three months or so ago, however, when the contest was far from decided, the boys agreed to pool the money. There was only a brief discussion on the matter, but when it was put to a vote, the boys decided almost unanimously to put the money into a kitty.

What are they going to do with it? That’s the nice part of it.

They are purchasing a diamond-studded watch for that finest of trainers, Bob Bauman, and are presenting it to him with their compliments. As one of the boys put it, “He’s been taking care of us for years without any reward, and it’s about time we take care of him.”

To the hundreds of athletes around St. Louis who echo the words that Bob Bauman is the best trainer in the world, this is just about the nicest thing the Brownie players could do.

That isn’t all. They also are purchasing other watches for Whitey Zimmerman, Art Peters and Bauman’s son, Dick, who assist in the clubhouse with the equipment.

Whatever money is then left over will be given to the charitable organizations of the city.

The instigator of all this? One of the boys who might have carted away a nice piece of change. Also a boy who had a great fielding season and practically no one noticed it. Shortstop Vern Stephens. He was named spokesman for the group.

Attaboy, Vern!