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Ex-Braves manager Bobby Bragan: 1917-2010

Jan 22, 2010, 5:40 PM EDT

Before my time, but worthy of note. Bragan managed the Braves in both Milwaukee and Atlanta, and managed the Pirates and Indians in the mid-to-late 50s.  He didn’t manage long and he was never at the helm of any transcendent teams. He was probably best remembered for the time that, while managing, he walked on the field sipping a soft drink through a straw, discussing the play in question with the umpires and offering each a taste of his drink.

So why do I think he’s worthy of note?  From something the brilliant baseball historian Steve Treder said over at Baseball Think Factory earlier this afternoon:

Bragan was an ardent anti-integrationist, one of the most vocal members of the 1947 Dodgers opposed to Jackie Robinson’s presence on the team. But once the season unfolded, and he observed what Robinson went through and how he handled it, Bragan began to greatly admire Robinson, and he saw that he’d been wrong all along, that what he’d been taught to believe was nonsense. Bragan became a vocal champion of integration.

It takes a big person to be that self-aware, and to grow that way. May he rest in peace.

I’m often accused of being a moral relativist. And yeah, maybe I am too forgiving about a lot of things.  But I just can’t shake the notion that people should not be defined by their worst moments.

Bragan, like a lot of young men of his vintage, probably said and did a lot of stupid things before and immediately after becoming Jackie Robinson’s teammate in 1947.  But by all accounts he learned and he grew, and he leaves a body of work that, while perhaps not worthy of sainthood, no doubt brought more good than harm to this world.

I think that’s something worth thinking about the next time some athlete acts out or gets arrested or tests positive for some drug.  We notice the worst moments. But we shouldn’t let them define people.

  1. all4tookie - Jan 22, 2010 at 5:49 PM

    Think you took a misstep here….
    “But by all accounts he learned and he grew, and he leaves a body of work that, while perhaps not worthy of sainthood, no doubt brought more harm than good to this world.”

  2. James - Jan 22, 2010 at 6:49 PM

    I agree, that was my comment as well… I don’t think you intended to say “more harm than good” based on the rest of the text.

  3. Craig Calcaterra - Jan 22, 2010 at 6:58 PM

    Wow. I make a lot mistakes, but that’s easily the best one I’ve made all week.
    Thanks guys. It’s fixed.
    Wow.

  4. Phil - Jan 22, 2010 at 9:22 PM

    We are all better than the worst thing we ever do.
    Sister Helen Prejean

  5. crotch_jenkins - Jan 22, 2010 at 11:07 PM

    This is the one Bobby Bragan story I know:
    http://seattle.metblogs.com/2008/06/19/exit-manager-stage-left/

  6. GimmeSomeSteel - Jan 23, 2010 at 12:14 AM

    Two things–
    1. I hope you never used that “don’t judge a man by his worst moments” argument in criminal court. “Yes, you found my client guilty of three murders and four rapes, but don’t judge him by his worst moments”–Somehow I don’t think a jury or judge would buy into it.
    2. I looked up Bragan’s playing record on baseball-reference.com, and his nickname (I’m only quoting here, so please forgive my using this term) was “Nig”. I don’t think I want to know the story behind that one.

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