By In Baseball, History

A Baseball Story

Here on Jackie Robinson’s birthday, wanted to repost this story I wrote a couple of years ago.

When Bobby Bragan was young, people used to call him “Nig.” He was of a darker complexion than most. He liked the nickname.  Bobby Bragan grew up in Alabama. The only black people he knew served food and worked for his father’s construction company. He did not even consider that his nickname might be offensive to anyone until he reached the Major Leagues and a teammate told him.

Bragan began his big-league career as a shortstop. He couldn’t hit, and he was an erratic fielder … an unhappy combination. In 1940, as a rookie, he made 49 errors. A year later he made 45 more. That’s when he realized that becoming backup catcher was safer. He was traded to Brooklyn in 1943 and a couple of years later went to war. When discharged in 1947, he traveled straight to Cuba and Dodgers spring training. He wanted to reclaim his job as backup catcher.

That was Jackie Robinson’s spring.

That was also Dixie Walker’s spring.

Dixie Walker was the most beloved player in Brooklyn. He was a gifted hitter — he finished second in the MVP voting to Stan Musial in 1946 — and, as Jonathan Eig writes in Opening Day, he had an aw-shucks Southern humility that drew people in. Musial was the Man in St. Louis. In Brooklyn, they called Walker “The People’s Cherce” — “Cherce” being Brooklyneese for “Choice.”

Walker is not at the heart of this particular story so we are not looking to delve into his motivations. What we know is that he tried to start a player revolt that spring to force the Dodgers to get rid of Jackie Robinson and refrain from integrating the game. He would express considerable regret about it in later years; he said that he had no personal issues with Robinson or African Americans in baseball but that he owned a hardware store in Birmingham and worried that playing with a black player would crush his business. You will make of that what you will.

Whatever the motivations, Dixie Walker went about trying starting his revolt. There might have been a written petition. It might have been done through whispers. He had no trouble finding followers. Kirby Higbe was a hard-throwing hell-raiser from South Carolina and the grandson of a Confederate soldier. According to Eig, Higbe boasted that he built up his arm throwing rocks at black children (Higbe added, almost as a defense, that “they threw as many rocks as we did”). Hugh Casey was a hard-drinking relief pitcher from Atlanta, and his feelings about black people was as unambiguous as Higbe’s. Carl Furillo was a self-proclaimed hard hat from Pennsylvania whose rough view of the world left little room for empathy.

And then there was Bobby Bragan, the backup catcher from Alabama who was just trying to stay in baseball.

Walker probably believed that his popularity along with the support of numerous teammates would force the Dodgers to retreat. It was a terrible miscalculation, something he probably realized when a red-faced Leo Durocher, the Dodgers manager, address the whole team:

“I don’t care if a guy is yellow or black, or if he has stripes like a (bleepin’) zebra,” he yelled. “I’m the manager of this team, and I say he plays.”

Then Branch Rickey himself summoned each of the potential traitors into his hotel room. He had a different speech for each of them. He screamed at Furillo: “How could you possible be against a man trying to make something of himself when you have seen the way people treated your father when he came from Italy?” (Furillo reportedly broke down and apologized and promised he would give Robinson a chance). He told Higbe he would trade him, and he soon dumped him on Pittsburgh.

Rickey wanted to trade Walker too … but that was a lot harder than dealing a 32-year old journeyman pitcher like Higbe. Walker was the team’s star and their most popular player. Rickey wanted to believe — maybe even NEEDED to believe — that Walker loved the game and winning too much to miss the obvious: Jackie Robinson was a helluva ballplayer and would make the Dodgers better. This was the core of Rickey’s proselytizing, that if ballplayers could only see Robinson as a teammate they would stop seeing him as a black man. The Dodgers would keep Walker all season.

Then there was Bobby Bragan, who told Rickey that he would give up his career to make a stand. In later years, He saw blacks as inferior to whites, plain and simple. And he did not know how to tell his family and friends that he was playing baseball with Robinson. He did not see this stance as hateful or even objectionable; it was his view of the world. Bragan asked to be traded.

And it would have been so easy for Rickey to trade him or release him. The Dodgers didn’t need him. He was a backup catcher only good for a few dozen at-bats. He was popular in the clubhouse, yes, but that hardly seemed a reason for Rickey to deal with Bragan’s mutiny.

Branch Rickey was many things, some of them admirable, some of them less admireable. Above all, he was shrewd. And that day, he saw something in Bobby Bragan that Bragan did not see in himself.

“If Jackie Robinson can play the position better than another player,” Rickey said after summoning Bragan, “then regardless of the color of his skin Jackie Robinson is going to play. You understand that Bobby?”

“Yes sir,” Bragan said.

“And how do you feel about this?”

“If it’s all the same with you, Mr. Rickey, I’d like to be traded to another team,” Bragan said.

Rickey leaned back. Maybe he puffed on his cigar. Maybe he didn’t. He asked Bobby Bragan a question.

“If we call Jackie Robinson up,” Rickey asked, “will you change the way you play for me?”

And here, at last, Bobby Bragan was forced to confront what kind of man he was.

“No sir,” Bragan said. “I’d still play my best.”

Rickey nodded and dismissed Bragan. He had made his decision. He would not trade Bobby Bragan.

Bragan didn’t get it at first. He went into the season bitter. But he began to watch Robinson from a distance. There wasn’t an overnight conversion.”I learned,” Bragan would say. “Not fast. But I learned.” The more he watched Robinson, the more he felt — despite himself — a grudging respect. The guy could play ball; Bragan thought he was the Dodgers’ best player more or less from his first day. And he was tough. He kept his head down. He did not try to engage teammates in conversation. He ignored the persistent taunts from the crowds and the opposing benches. On the team train, Bragan felt himself drawn to Jackie Robinson. He would sit two rows away. He would sit one row away.

And then he sat next to Jackie Robinson. They didn’t talk much, and they didn’t talk about anything, in particular — just baseball stuff. Something about a pitcher. Something about a play. Maybe Bragan told a little joke. Maybe Robinson smiled. Maybe Bragan — again, in spite of himself — felt good that he could break Robinson’s hard exterior.

Then, they would sit next to each other again on the train. And again. Robinson joined a card game Bragan was playing. Few things can connect people quite like playing cards. Bragan would find himself sitting next to Robinson in the dugout, and they would talk, and when Bragan heard his family and friends and others discount Jackie Robinson, heard them call him less than a man, Bragan found dissent welling up inside him. “Wait a minute,” he would think. “You don’t know him.” And, to his surprise, he found himself saying that out loud.

The Dodgers in 1947 were superb, Dixie Walker hit .300 again, Eddie Stanky walked 100 times, and the group that soon would become known as the Boys of Summer — Robinson, Reese, Furillo, Gil Hodges, Duke Snider — began to come together. The Dodgers won the pennant. As Bragan would say, players of all racial viewpoints lined up with Jackie Robinson to collect their World Series checks.

Dixie Walker was traded after the season to Pittsburgh. Two players returned in the deal, Billy Cox and Preacher Roe, would become full-fledged Boys of Summer. Hugh Casey lasted in Brooklyn a few months longer and then, largely because of his ineffective pitching, was released. While pitching for Pittsburgh later that year, Casey twice threw at Jackie Robinson, hitting him once in the knee. The two men glared at each other. Three months later, Casey was out of baseball. Jackie Robinson was named the 1949 league MVP.

And Bragan? He got a big double in Game 6 of the 1947 World Series, and he stuck around for a few games the following year, but he was done as a player. Bragan knew that managing was his only way to stay in the game. He went to Fort Worth, where he served as a player-manager, then to Hollywood for a couple of years. In 1955, he was hired to manage the Pittsburgh Pirates. He was hired by the Pirates GM, a man named Branch Rickey.

Later, Bragan managed in Cleveland briefly and in Milwaukee for a while. He was not especially successful, but he had some good ideas — he was one of the first managers who tried to put his best players in the leadoff spot, regardless of how fast they were. That was a good thought.

And over the years, Bragan and Robinson became friends, real friends, the sort who would go to each other’s houses for dinner, the sort who would happily embrace whenever they came across each other. Robinson was proud of Bragan, proud of how he changed. In 1958, Bragan was hired midseason to manage a minor-league team in Spokane. There was an angry young, African American shortstop on that team who had been in the minor leagues for eight years. He was miserable — both toward himself and everyone around him. “I had just about given up on myself,” the shortstop would write. The shortstop was Maury Wills.

Bragan talked to Wills every day. He boosted Wills’ confidence, spoke the good things he saw. “You have gifts,” Bragan told him. “You belong in this game.” Bragan noticed something in Maury Wills’ swing — mainly that he had real trouble swinging from the right side — and convinced him to become a switch-hitter. Bragan and Wills worked together every day. And when Wills began to get switch-hitting down, Bragan called the Los Angeles Dodgers repeatedly to say, “You need a shortstop. I have your shortstop right here.”

You know the story of Maury Wills. He would win the 1962 MVP Award when he stole 104 bases scored 130 runs. Many credit him for altering the game. Thing is, Maury Wills knew in 1958 that Bragan was one of the men who at first refused to play with Jackie Robinson. He knew it, and his instincts would have been to not trust such a man. But he also knew that Bobby Bragan was a different man. His generosity of spirit had been hard earned. His enthusiasm and newfound color blindness were irresistible. Maury Wills has credited much of his success in baseball and life to the friendship and mentorship of Bobby Bragan.

In 1964, Robinson wrote an underappreciated book called “Baseball Has Done It” about integration. He asked Bobby Bragan to write about his feelings.

“I think it’s just a matter of becoming acclimated to the thing by association,” Bragan wrote. “I was exposed to integration daily under the shower, in the next locker, on the bus, in the hotel and many conversations. … All this adds up to a tolerant attitude, a little more understanding of the situation than if we’d never left Alabama.”

A year later, Branch Rickey died. In the church, in the same pew, sat Jackie Robinson and Bobby Bragan. Jackie Robinson talked afterward about how Branch Rickey changed his life. Bobby Bragan talked about the same thing.

Bragan spent a long life in the game of baseball; he died at the age of 92 and to the very end of his life he taught baseball to kids. One reporter asked him to name his greatest contribution to baseball, and he could have talked about Maury Wills, he could have talked about some of his managing maneuvers, he could have talked about the many players he helped during a 70-year life in baseball. He could have talked about his one at-bat, and one hit, in the World Series.

Instead, he said his greatest contribution to the game was getting out of it. He ran out of steam as a player in 1948. “Roy Campanella,” Bragan said proudly of the first black catcher in the Major Leagues, “took my place.”

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62 Responses to A Baseball Story

  1. steve k says:

    great read, joe. thx

  2. DBJet12 says:

    What a wonderful piece. I really enjoyed it. Thank you.

  3. Chris K. says:

    I’ve read a lot of your work over the years, Joe. This is one of my favorite pieces. Thank you..

  4. Mark says:

    Once again Joe, you’ve hit a grand slam with this article. Thanks.

  5. Cuban X Senators says:

    Did Bragan think he was gonna block Campanella?

    I remember as a kid with my father running across Bragan at a baseball function (this woulda been about 1981) & my father saying that Bragan was among the worst managers ever.

    • BC EchoHawk says:

      You have missed the point altogether.

    • Vince says:

      Did you even read the article? He was being gracious. Take some notes for future reference.

      • Cuban X Senators says:

        Yeah, sorry, this isn’t a feel good story to me.

        Bragan was a raconteur on the rubber chicken circuit in the 70s. He sold himself. He self-depricated (a la Garagiola & Uecker). He said what kept business flowing. It is not lost on me that when Bragan was wrong and when Bragan was “right”, he was saying what advanced his interests.

        In one of his books Roger Kahn raises his own doubts about Bragan’s metamorphosis. The sourcing on this story (from Tygiel to Eig to this) is usually Bragan himself. It certainly made for good rubber chicken fodder though (just as Veeck’s “I almost bought the Phils” story did).

        The best he did was get out of the way? Aw. Gracious? I read it as self-serving. I’ll admit to curmudgeonry, however.

        And you’ll be pressed to find a manager who underperformed his Pythag so far — for whatever that may be worth.

        • Robert says:

          I feel sorry for you. I sincerely hope you come to terms with whatever issues you’re dealing with.

        • Ben says:

          Let’s say that you’re right that Bragan’s actions are self-serving (I have no idea his real motivations).

          In the spring of 1947, he was being self-serving by not wanting his hometown to see him playing with Robinson.

          Later, he was being self-serving by saying he evolved to appreciate Robinson.

          Even if that’s all it was, I like the change.

    • Guy Laurin says:

      No need to ruin a good piece of writing, with a negative comment…

      • I don’t agree with the guy, but he has a right to say what he wants. He doesn’t think Bragan is genuine. I think that’s a fair question. I’ve never met the guy & certainly everyone uses their own words to make themselves look better. So, if a guy tells a story about himself, and he’s ultimately the hero at the end, well…. of course, he is.

        • Karyn says:

          Man, I dunno. Maury Wills and Hank Aaron had praise for the man. Neither of them were exactly reticent about discussing racism in baseball.
          So the guy made a living telling stories about his life in baseball? I mean, so what–does that make him a liar? It just seems like unless there’s a particular reason to disbelieve him, why not take the story at face value? It sounds like many such transformation stories.

  6. Rawson says:

    Thanks, Joe, for this fond reflection on a good man. Baseball fans in Fort Worth are grateful that Bragan chose to spend his final years with us. He was welcome everywhere, because of his affection for our town and love of the game.

    Always the showman, a few years ago he agreed to manage the independent Fort Worth Cats for one game, and got “ejected” in the third inning. That made him the oldest manager and oldest ejectee in professional baseball history.

  7. Shagster says:

    Great piece, Joe. I read the other day that Lincoln’s assassin said that Lincoln’s re-election would mean “n**** citizenship “, and he’d kill him before he’d let that happen. It’s sad to say that the killer of Lincoln got his way. While freed of slavery, without Lincoln it was another 100 years before African Americans got their citizenship. It seems fair to say that Bragan clearly was a man of Lincoln. And as a kindred spirit Rickey knew he could count on the better angels of Bragan’s nature.

    A fine story. Worth re telling. I’ve shared it with my son.

  8. Rick says:

    Terrific read… Coming of age, human frailty, such a fine story!

  9. NevadaMark says:

    So Rickey asked Bragan if Bragan would still play the same? Did he think Bragan was going to tank? How would that help him get traded-who would want a player that tanked?

    • Dave says:

      I doubt the question was about what Rickey would do; I think the psychology of it was to putin Bragan’s mind what Bragan would do–he’d play the same regardless of his teammates, trade possibility or no trade possibility.

    • Karyn says:

      I think it’s possible he might have said something like, “I don’t know–I don’t know that I could put my whole heart into playing for an organization that does this.”
      And then Rickey keeps that under his hat while trying to deal away a 2nd string catcher.

  10. wordyduke says:

    6: feelings about black people was. 8th from end: Brayan. Great telling of a timeless story, Joe. Thanks!

  11. Michael says:

    It takes a bold character to break down barriers, it takes a humble one to heal divisions.

  12. buddaley says:

    Didn’t Red Barber tell a similar story about himself and his wife’s suggestion that despite his feelings about integration, he should remain a Dodger announcer to report what was obviously a major story. And of course his personal story being his gratitude that Jackie Robinson altered his view of the world

    • Red’s account is that after Rickey told him, he came home and told Lylah he would have to quit and she said he didn’t have to quit that night. He said he spent a lot of time thinking–and I’m sure he talked a lot with his wife–and realizing that he was not white by choice, and that he was, above all else, a reporter. Red was never “friends” with a player, but he was friendly with all who wanted to be, and he was friendly with Robinson.

      • The thing I find amazing is that Vin Scully always praises Red Barber for helping him early in his career. I’m sure he did help, but the reality is that Barber treated Scully very poorly during their time together. It’s also clear that Barber was quite a jackwagon, in general. You have to love Vin, though. Vin always takes the high road. I’m sure Vin had to point out deficiencies from time to time, as part of his job. I do remember that he’d mention things such as a player was very slow, didn’t have a good move, had committed a large number of errors, etc. All fact based stuff. But I never heard him take anyone down completely as a bad guy or a useless person.

        • Bellweather22, I’ll respectfully disagree. Vin has always said that the most important thing was that Red CARED. He wanted him to do well, and that’s why he was hard on him. Red has said Vin was the son he never had, and Vin has said that Red was the second most important man in his life next to his father–and I’m sure, given the relationship, that did not necessarily please the likely #3 choice, Walter O’Malley, who had a mutual disadmiration society with Red. That isn’t to say that Red wasn’t incredibly tough on him, and he even told the story of the day that Vin had beer before going on the air and Red told him that he would be fired if he ever did that again. Ernie Harwell has said that Vin even told him that Red was incredibly tough on him and Ernie’s response was, I know, but it will be worth it.

  13. Lester says:

    “and he did even consider that his nickname might be offensive” … Missing “not”, I think…

  14. Joe, great as always, but a couple of points may be in dispute. Reese always claimed that he did not sign the petition or want to be involved in it. I’d like to believe his version of that event, but even then I appreciate seeing your account of Bragan because we always hear about Reese as an ally and a friend of Robinson, and it’s nice to encounter a story about someone else. Furillo claimed that he did not get involved, and that he resented it being depicted in the movie about Robinson that came out in 1950.

    Interestingly, Hank Aaron said that Bragan was the manager who made him a complete ballplayer. Bragan told him that he was as good as Willie Mays and could steal as many bases but hadn’t been, and he wanted him to start. He did. But I also think of Jocko Conlan saying that in his 25 years as a major league umpire, Bragan was the only one who ever questioned his integrity.

    • bookbook says:

      There was an umpire whose integrity was only questioned by one person in his entire career? He must have been an incredible ump.

      • I read Conlan’s book. While entertaining, he didn’t lack an ego, that’s for sure. Conlan and Durocher once got into a shin kicking contest on the field during an argument. Both mentioned it in their books. The funny part is that Durocher finally realized after a few kicks back and forth that Conlan had on shin guards and that he (Durocher) was easily on the losing side of the exchange.

        • Oh, no question, Jocko had a huge ego. But, bookbook, remember, he didn’t say that Durocher never questioned his judgment or anything like that. What happened was that there was a long game and Jocko was in the dugout and said, “I hope somebody scores a run.” Then he made a call against the Braves and Bragan said, yeah, well, he said he wanted the game to end, so he made the call that way. I thought of the story that Bill Kinnamon, an AL umpire and umpire school boss, told, of his partner who didn’t care what you called him. But in the 9th inning one day, someone yelled from the dugout, “Bear down!” and the guy nearly cleared the bench, and was still fuming after the game about how he’d worked his tail off all day and wasn’t going to tolerate that sort of thing.

  15. […] -Terrific story from one of the best…Joe Posnanski. […]

  16. […] Joe Posnanski on Bobby Bragan and Jackie Robinson. […]

  17. Bill Reese says:

    Great story of a southerner overcoming a racist upbringing. Millions of us lived this transformation, one interaction at a time, but it is a story too seldom heard where people are cast as unchanging. We miss your Augusta Chronicle entries!

  18. […] JoeBlogs | Joe Posnanski: If you need to be reminded that the integration of baseball remains a fascinating and multi-faceted story, here’s a look at a bit player named Bobby Bragan who found it changed his life. […]

  19. Dave B says:

    Beautiful story, Joe.

  20. […] Posnanski provides us with some Sunday morning reading, courtesy of his blog. Posnanski used to be my favorite writer growing up; I devoured his work in the KC Star, and […]

  21. LaWanna says:

    Joe, I have read lots of your articles. I’m sure you have several great books out there but I must say that my favorite and the one that made me take more of an interest in baseball was Soul of Baseball: A Road Trip through Buck O’Neil’s America. That was an awesome book and I respect and admire you for putting it all out there. Not everyone is going to like or agree with your views but as long as it’s real and truthful keep it going. This too was a nice piece. Thanks for sharing.

  22. Andrew Greening says:

    What a great story…thx, Jeff! I always remember Bragan as a kind of rough hewn old school guy…had no real idea of his background, though

  23. DMS says:

    Came to this website because of the Poscast, and saw this piece. Great story. While some readers may debate the extent of Bragan’s transformation, is his signing of that petition also disputed?

    Even if he’d signed the petition less out of prejudice, and more due to self interest (aren’t acts of discrimination usually some combination of both?), it’s clear he recognized the way the world was moving and embraced it. #42, above all, would have seen through any disingenuousness and not have asked him to write for his book.

  24. […]  A Baseball Story – This is a piece by Joe Posnanski.  Posnanski I think is one of the best sports writers […]

  25. Marc Schneider says:

    I’m sure there was some self-interest in Bragan’s account but human nature is never as simple or Manichean (I’m not going to say black and white) as people would like to think. Harry Truman was known to use the “n” word but at the same time, he integrated the military and proposed a fairly sweeping civil rights bill. It’s very easy to sit here today as enlightened people of the 21st century and denigrate Bragan, but the fact is, the African-Americans that knew him seemed to believe him. . Moreover, even if you chalk up his “conversion” to self-interest, there were plenty of southerners who never changed even though it would have been in their self-interest to do so; for that matter, the Red Sox didn’t integrate until the late 50s even though they obviously would have benefitted. So, don’t assume that self-interest necessarily means insincerity. At the same time, I wouldn’t be surprised if there were still vestiges of his old attitudes from time to time. It’s not easy to change the attitudes you grew up with.

    As for Reese, the story in The Boys of Summer is that Reese had been approached to sign the petition but did not. It’s sort of hard to square with him putting his arm around Robinson when he was being abused in, I think, Cincinnati. Roger Kahn’s version of Furillo is that he thought there were “good” blacks like Robinson and Campanella and, then, the other kind. Of course, Kahn had become friends of these guys so he was perhaps not completely objective.

    • NevadaMark says:

      Nicely put Marc.

      As for Furillio I get the impression that he was a get-along, go-along guy and if there had actually been a petition signed by most of the players, he would have signed. And when Robinson proved to be a great ball player, he accepted that as well.

      I could be completely wrong of course. Who knows what is in another person’s heart.

      • It’s always easy to accept a guy on your team who busts his tail and helps you win. Ballplayers are wired to like guys like that. Even if they personally didn’t “like” them & didn’t hang out with him, there will be respect. On the field, they will stick up for guys they respect. Don’t forget, none of these guys were bringing Robinson home to hang out with their families. And in 1947, professional respect & having his back (mostly) on the field was all you could expect. Probably more.

  26. Duchess says:

    I wonder if the men who are now playing who are gay will find their Branch Rickey and if the people like Bragan will accept them as they come to know them?

    • There are already gay players in every sport. They can hide, unlike black players. There already have been a couple of players that came out in other sports. Some have come out either after they retired, or after they have lost the ability to make a team. Michael Sam came out, but was always considered a marginal prospect. He got a lot of public support, but of course, hasn’t made a team yet. So, they are there. They just haven’t made themselves known, at least not anyone actively playing. It will happen. The environment is already there for them to be successful. There are people out in all walks of life. Not that it won’t be tough on them & I don’t blame them for not coming out. But, gays don’t need a Branch Rickey. They need a player, with actual talent, who just comes out.

    • Marc Schneider says:

      I think there is a big difference between a gay player today and the situation with Robinson. In general, society has become much more accepting of gay people; while there are certainly people that would have problems with a gay teammate or opponent, they certainly could not get away with doing the stuff that people did to Robinson. With the gay player, you are likely talking more about subtle things than outright abuse. And, teams would be much more likely to jump on any such abuse simply because of the bad PR they would get. Robinson was largely on his own; much of the press was racist and opposed to him and many of the players came from the South. I mean, pitchers threw at Robinson and said it was because he was black. No one would dare do something like that to a gay player today, I think.

      It’s a nice analogy, but I think comparisons like that sort of diminish what Robinson actually accomplished and endured. It basically killed him at an early age, IMO. (And, of course, even after Robinson, black players still endured a lot of abuse in a country that was still largely segregated.)

  27. […] some time currently wrapped adult in a small Joe: A Baseball Story – Joe Posnanski, “Of course, Bragan didn’t consider so. He went into a deteriorate bitter. But he began to […]

  28. […] – A Baseball Story […]

  29. […] is another way: The Mo'Ne Davis/Joey Casselberry way, the Branch Rickey/Bobby Bragan way. Or if you don't like baseball, the Matt Stolhandske/Klein family bakery […]

  30. […] is another way: The Mo’Ne Davis/Joey Casselberry way, the Branch Rickey/Bobby Bragan way. Or if you don’t like baseball, the Matt Stolhandske/Klein family bakery […]

  31. I was a member of the DFW Hall-Ruggles chapter of SABR for many years. Bobby Bragan was also a member, so I was able to interact with him personally, and he also came to athletics luncheons where I used to work. He was genuine, down-to-earth, and a wonderful man. His years living in the DFW metroplex were spent doing charitable work with youth and baseball. And, like me and many others — as attested by Bill Reese — he did overcome his racist upbringing. That is a major accomplishment and not to be downplayed. Thank you, Joe, for this article.

  32. Anyone who ever spent any time with Bobby can testify that he was a man of great character and one who genuinely cared about his fellow man. The experience with Jackie was a life-changing event which led Bobby to see the good in every individual. His legacy is spread across the baseball world in the form of many who were positively influenced by him… greats like Maury Wills and Hank Aaron and many of lesser fame on and off the field who have made contributions to the game. The championship trophy of the Texas League bears his name. But he was also a great contributor to his community. His generosity was well known in the Dallas-Fort Worth area and that legacy continues today through the Bobby Bragan Youth Foundation which continues to award scholarships to deserving young people each year.

  33. Ted Barker says:

    AMEN John – Bobby was one of the finest men I have ever known. One of the things I admired most about him was that he strived to become a better man every day. Yes he was a Dodger through and through – but he was a Giant of a man. No one did more for baseball in D-FW. He touched lives until his last day.

  34. […] is another way: The Mo’Ne Davis/Joey Casselberry way, the Branch Rickey/Bobby Bragan way. Or if you don’t like baseball, the Matt Stolhandske/Klein family bakery […]

  35. Jeff Lance says:

    Interesting to lean more about Bobby Bragan. My dad played for his Army (Camp Wheeler, Georgia club) in 1945. Bragan helped steer my dad to the Germany based 3rd Army 60th Infantry ‘Go Devils’. who went on to win the 1946 GI World Series in Europe. Several pros were on the team, including Carl Scheib from the Athletics. He and dad kept in touch for awhile. I still have my dad’s team photos and a baseball signed by the team, including Bragan.

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  37. steve says:

    Back before I retired, I used this story with my 8th grade U S history class. It should be part of all future “best baseball writing” compilations.

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