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Sunday, August 11, 2019

Jimmy Bragan, Greatest Game - 50

Newly minted Southern League president Jimmy Bragan saw league attendance jump in 1981, but he had ideas on why that were beyond the then-ongoing baseball strike, according to The Washington Post.

There were visits by name coaches, like Yogi Berra, which Bragan told teams they should promote. There was also weather and school letting out, he told The Post.

"The strike has given us additional exposure in the media, too," Bragan conceded to The Post. "But still the best promotion in the world is winning. That's why a team like Birmingham in its last 10 home games (all during the strike) has increased its average from 1,500 to 3,700 a game. They are winning."

Bragan took over the AA Southern League that year after an already-lengthy career as a player and a coach. Bragan played eight seasons in the minors, with the Dodgers and Reds organizations. He later spent nearly a decade in the majors as a coach for the Reds, Expos and Brewers.

But, in his home state of Alabama, it was his time as Southern League president where he left his greatest legacy. His 13 years leading the league were called a boom time, according to Al.com.

Bragan's career in baseball began in 1950, signed by the Dodgers out of Mississippi State University.

Bragan started with the Dodgers at single-A Elmira. He moved to AA Fort Worth for a time in 1951. He then played 37 games for his home state in Mobile in 1954. He last played in 1957 at single-A Macon.

He then turned to coaching and managing. He managed low Class-D Bluefield for the remainder of 1957.

In 1967, he joined the Reds in Cincinnati as third base coach. He stayed there for three seasons, then moved to Montreal as first base coach from 1970 to 1972. He's credited as coaching in Milwaukee for 1976 and 1977.

Bragan briefly managed AA Chattanooga in 1978, then turned to scouting. In 1981, he took over the Southern League and ran the league for 14 seasons with the help of his wife, Sarah.

In 2015, Al.com featured Bragan and his time as Southern League president and cited a piece Bragan wrote for the league media guide upon his retirement.

"The game is the greatest game on earth and I will never know why God blessed me with the abilities to a part of it on so many different levels," Bragan wrote, according to Al.com. "I'm just glad he did."

Bragan passed away in 2001 at the age of 72. The league has since named its Executive of the Year award for Bragan.
1990 Minor League Tally
Players/Coaches Featured:3,159
Made the Majors:1,147-36.3%
Never Made Majors:2,012-63.7%
5+ Seasons in the Majors: 475
10+ Seasons in the Minors:283

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