Sports Outside the Beltway

Former MLB Manager Bobby Bragan dead at 92

He made his Major League debut with the Philadelphia Phillies where the recently deceased Stan Benjamin was also a player. Later on Bragan would manage three franchises, and be the first skipper of the Atlanta Braves after the team moved from Milwaukee. RIP.

FORT WORTH, Texas — Bobby Bragan, who earned the nickname “Mr. Baseball” and was dedicated to seeing baseball blossom in Fort Worth, died at his Fort Worth home on Thursday night. He was 92.Bobby Bragan

“We are dealing with the loss of one of the great ones,” former Rangers manager Bobby Valentine told “He was a true renaissance man. He was amazing, so incredibly special. He had such great knowledge of baseball, such retention. He could talk baseball on one hand, recite poetry on the other. There was no one else quite like him.”

Bragan, a native of Birmingham, Ala., arrived in Fort Worth in 1948 as a player and manager after parts of seven seasons in the majors, ending up with the Brooklyn Dodgers. He was a backup catcher for the Dodgers before spending two years in the military. He returned for the 1947 season. The Dodgers went on to lose the World Series that year to the New York Yankees, and Bragan had a pinch-hit double in his only World Series plate appearance.

The next season he was in Fort Worth helping the Cats become a winner. He stayed through the 1952 season and his teams won regular season titles in 1948 and 1949, never finishing below .500 during his tenure.

Bragan went on to manage in the majors for Pittsburgh (1956-57), Cleveland (1958), Milwaukee (1963-65) and Atlanta (1966). Bragan was the first manager of the Braves after they moved from Milwaukee to Atlanta. He managed Hall of Famers Hank Aaron, Eddie Mathews, Bill Mazeroski, Roberto Clemente, Bob Lemon and Warren Spahn, compiling a 443-478 career record.

Bragan also was a major league coach for the Los Angeles Dodgers and Houston Colt .45s. His minor league managerial stops also included the Hollywood Stars of the Pacific Coast League.


Former Brooklyn Dodger OF Don Thompson dead at 85

He was best remembered for throwing Billy Martin out at home plate to end a World Series game. RIP.

ASHEVILLE, N.C. – Don Thompson, who played for the Brooklyn Dodgers with Jackie Robinson, Duke Snider and Gil Hodges, died Monday following a long illness. He was 85.

Thompson roamed the outfield of Ebbets Field, a magical place in the 1950s. He threw out Billy Martin of the Yankees at the plate to end Game 3 of the 1953 World Series.

Thompson was born in Swepsonville, N.C., on Dec. 28, 1923. He signed his first professional contract in 1943 with the Boston Braves and made his major-league debut with them in 1949. He played with the Dodgers in 1951, ’53 and ’54. Mainly a utility outfielder, Thompson had a career batting average of .217.

His best season was in 1953 when he hit .242 while playing in 96 regular-season games for the Dodgers, who lost the World Series in six games to the Yankees.

Thompson appeared in two games as a defensive replacement, including the third game, when he had one of his best moments as a ballplayer.

Martin was on second base with two outs and the Dodgers ahead by one. Mickey Mantle singled to left. Thompson took the ball on the second hop and threw home, where catcher Roy Campanella positioned himself for Martin, who had rounded third.

“Campy had the ball in his mitt and was getting ready for a collision, and Martin was bent over and he was going to run into him,” Thompson, a member of the Dodgers’ Hall of Fame, recalled recently. “But at the last minute Campy sidestepped right quick, and came up and tagged him under the chin and, honest to God, he turned him a flip. He knocked the hell out of Martin. That was the last out, and we won the game.”


Former MLB Pitcher Preacher Roe dead at 92

He was a key member of the Brooklyn Dodgers in the late 40′s and early 50′s. His best year was 1951, when he went 22-3. What was Dodger Manager Charlie Dressen thinking in the famous ‘shot around the world’ game when he pulled Don Newcombe only to put in Ralph Branca. Branca hadn’t just pitched two days earlier but had given up numerous gopher balls to Bobby Thomson. I think 7 alone in 1951. Yes Branca gave the Dodgers the platoon advantage, but based on everything else Preacher Roe was the best available option. Roe, wasn’t used at all in the 3-game series versus the New York Giants. RIP.


Former Brooklyn Dodger Johnny Podres dead at 75

He was the winning pitcher in game 7 of the 1955 World Series. That was the year the Bums finally won it all after 5 postseason losses to the Yankees in the previous 14 years. Afterwards Podres stayed around MLB for almost another 14 years as a player, and more as a pitching coach. RIP.

GLENS FALLS, N.Y. – Johnny Podres, who pitched the Brooklyn Dodgers to their only World Series title in 1955, died Sunday at the age of 75.

A spokesman for Glens Falls Hospital confirmed Podres’ death but said he didn’t know any details.

The left-hander was picked for four All-Star games and was the first Most Valuable Player in World Series history. He became a hero to every baseball fan in Brooklyn when the Dodgers ended decades of frustration by beating the Yankees to win the World Series.

It was the first time a team had won a best-of-seven World Series after losing the first two games, and it was Brooklyn’s only World Series victory. The Dodgers moved to Los Angeles after the 1957 season.

The Dodgers lost the first two games of at Yankee Stadium, then the Dodgers won the third 8-3 at Ebbets Field. Podres, going the distance on his 23rd birthday, scattered seven hits.

In the climactic seventh game, at Yankee Stadium, Podres shut out New York 2-0 on eight hits, relying on his fastball and a deceptive changeup.

As the story goes, Podres told his teammates to get him just one run and the Dodgers would win Game 7. They got him two, and the franchise celebrated its first and only championship while playing in Brooklyn.

Years later, Podres was uncertain he made such a brash statement.

“I don’t know if I said it or not. That’s what they said I said,” a grinning Podres recalled in 2005. “Probably young and dumb — something like that would haunt you your whole life. … You put on a big league uniform, you’ve got to think you’re pretty good.”

Tommy Byrne, the losing pitcher in that game, died Dec. 20.

Podres’ career spanned 15 years with the Dodgers in Brooklyn and Los Angeles, the Detroit Tigers and San Diego Padres. He retired in 1969 at age 36 with a lifetime record of 148-116.


Visitors Since Feb. 4, 2003

All original content copyright 2003-2008 by OTB Media. All rights reserved.