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Bragan, 87, tossed after setting record

8/16/2005

FORT WORTH, Texas -- Bobby Bragan hinted weeks before his
history-making appearance as manager of the Fort Worth Cats that he
might get tossed out of the game.

Sure enough, the 87-year-old former big league manager was in
the stands signing autographs Tuesday night when he officially
became the oldest manager of a pro baseball game. He swears that
wasn't the plan.

"Sure wasn't," said Bragan, who managed the Cats for one game
to surpass Hall of Famer Connie Mack by eight days. Mack managed
his last game for Philadelphia in 1950.

Bragan was tossed in the third inning of Fort Worth's Central
League game against Coastal Bend. He had gone out to ask home plate
umpire Brandon Misun why he ejected shortstop David Keesee, who was
thrown out for the first time in his much shorter life (25 years)
after being called out on strikes.

Keesee said he told the umpire he was calling a bad game,
leading to the ejection. When informed of that, Bragan told the
umpire he agreed. The umpire ordered Bragan to join Keesee.

For his part, Keesee said the team never gave him an ejection
notice.

"If [there] is, I don't want to be a part of it. I want to
play," Keesee said, laughing. "But if it was planned, I'm glad I
could contribute."

By the time 4½ innings were played, making the game official and
giving Bragan the record, he was at an autograph table behind home
plate at LaGrave Field. He had been joined by Maury Wills, his
first base coach the first two innings. Wills credits Bragan with
sparking his baseball career that included a .281 average and 586
steals over 14 seasons.

The people waiting in line almost outnumbered those in the
stands at the 5 p.m. start of a doubleheader caused by a rainout
Monday. The rainout postponed the planned night for Bragan's
record.

The pregame meeting at home plate, normally a gathering of about
five, nearly doubled for Bragan's special game. It included a
seeing-eye dog, Bragan's idea of putting the umpire on notice that
he'd be watching.

"I told him, 'I want you to call them right. Don't call them
like you see them,' " said Bragan, who estimated that he was
ejected about six games a year during 12 seasons of managing.

Bragan spent seven seasons as a major league manager for
Pittsburgh (1956-57), Cleveland (1958) and the Milwaukee (1963-65)
and Atlanta (1966) Braves. He managed Hall of Famers Hank Aaron,
Eddie Mathews and Warren Spahn, and compiled a record of 443-478.

Mack's served 50 seasons as a manager of the Philadelphia
Athletics. He won five World Series and nine pennants.

He had no trouble holding his job even though the A's were a
poor team in his later years in the dugout. Mack also owned the
team.