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 last 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.
By the time 41/2 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 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.
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.
* TWO STRIKES: Royals minor league SS Luis Ugueto was banned for 30 games after failing a second drug test, the second-longest suspension for a minor league player this season. Brewers minor league relief pitcher Nicholas Slack also got a 15-game ban for a first violation.
-- From News Services