The Team That Forever Changed Baseball and America: The 1947 Brooklyn Dodgers

By Lyle Spatz; Maurice Bouchard et al. | Go to book overview
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Chapter 7. Bobby Bragan

David L. Fleitz and Maurice Bouchard

Bobby Bragan was a backup catcher whose pinchhit double in Game Six of the 1947 World Series was his final moment of glory as a Major League player. However, Bragan left an enviable legacy as a manager and executive at the Major and Minor League levels. He managed three Major League clubs, developed the farm system of the nascent Houston Colt .45s, was president of the Texas League, served as president of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues (the umbrella organization for all Minor Leagues), and then built a new career in public relations for the Texas Rangers. His self-avowed greatest achievement, though, is the more than four hundred scholarships awarded through the Bobby Bragan Youth Foundation.

Robert Randall Bragan was born Robert Randall Downs on October 30, 1917, in Birmingham, Alabama, the second son of Walter Lee and Corinne (Roberts) Downs. After Walter died in 1921, Corinne met and married George Washington Bragan Jr., a widower with two young children. George adopted Corinne’s two sons, Walter Lee Jr. and Robert, who never considered anyone other than George to be their father.1 From the tragedy each endured, George and Corinne created a loving, close-knit family that eventually grew to seven sons and two daughters.

The Bragan boys, who worked after school, nonetheless found time to play baseball. Four of them eventually signed professional contracts. Robert, a shortstop, was the best of the lot. After graduating from Phillips High School, he accepted a baseball scholarship to Birmingham’s Howard College (now Samford University), but he left after one semester when he was offered $65 a month to play for the Panama City (Florida) Pelicans in the Class D Alabama-Florida League.

Bobby Bragan was opposed to playing with Jackie
Robinson initially but later changed his mind.

Bobby, five feet eleven and weighing 175 pounds, spent the 1937 season with Panama City, where he hit .285 with 56 runs batted in. Before the start of the next season, the Pelicans sold his contract to the Pensacola (Florida) Pilots of the Class B Southeastern League for $500. A strong

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