|Bragan featured in Southlake Times|
Christina Rowland/ Staff Writer
A baseball weighs five ounces. The circumference of a baseball is nine inches. There are 108 double stitches on a baseball. All useless facts to the average person, but to Bobby Bragan baseball was a way of life for 70 years.
Bragan, now 90, has been involved in baseball since1937 when he played for a minor league team in Panama City. In 1940, Bragan make it to the major-leagues as a shortstop for the Philadelphia Phillies’s. In 1943, he was traded to the Brooklyn Dodgers. While with the Dodgers, he was able to play in the 1947 World Series.
“I had a two-base hit in the 1947 World Series. It was the Brooklyn Dodgers vs. The New York Yankees,” Bragan said. “I hit a double in the sixth inning and we won game six.”
“Branch Rickey was the greatest individual to ever walk on the baseball stage. “ Bragan said. “He played 4 years in the majors, managed 10 years, and never went to the baseball stadium on Sunday.”
Branch Rickey helped break the color barrier in baseball when he signed Jackie Robinson to a major-league contract.
Bragan said the team trained in Cuba that year to avoid the media.
Bragan was one of six boys. Five of them played baseball.
“From the time I was born, baseball was prominent and we wanted to be baseball players. I played in high school as a short stop and went into the major leagues as a catcher,” he said.
Bragan said the hardest thing for him to overcome was lack of running speed and that is why he switched from short stop to catcher.
After playing seven years in the major-leagues, Bragan began coaching and managing teams.
Bragan retired and made Fort Worth his permanent home. In 1991, Bragan established his foundation, the Bobby Bragan Foundation that awards scholarships to eighth-graders across North Texas.
The first year the foundation only gave out four scholarships, the second year eight were awarded and it has grown from there. There are now 36 scholarships that are given out every year.
According to Bragan $1.4 million has been given out to 350 students. To be considered, the students must write an essay about their role model and from there the essays go through committees to narrow it down to the final 36. The scholarships are for $2,500 each and the students get the money once they have enrolled in college. The kids attend colleges all over the country, including MIT, West Point, Columbia and many more.
“Next year, we will give out 36 more student scholarships. That is $80,000 a year,” Bragan said.
Bragan spoke on Monday afternoon to a full room at Keller’s Conservatory Senior Living center. He signed autographs, ate lunch, spoke on baseball and his foundation and even played the piano and sang.