On a Friday night in early January Edmundo Isasi Amoros, a left fielder for the Almendares Blues, edged warily away from second base, his eyes darting from the second baseman to the pitcher to the shortstop and then down the base line to a dumpy figure in the third-base coaching box. In the dark, windy grandstand of the Gran Stadium de Habana the sellers of chicharrones, of Hatuey beer, of cigarros and hot, sweet Cuban coffee paused to watch as Pitcher Jose Miguel Fornieles of the Marianao Tigers began his delivery. Behind Fornieles the Marianao outfield had shifted to the right for the Almendares hitter, a left-hander.
The ball came in high and outside, and the batter, swinging a little late, slashed it over the third baseman's head. The Marianao left fielder, Saturnino Orestes Minoso, was off with the sound of the hit but he had a long run to recover the ball near the Gillette-Azul sign. Meanwhile, the third-base coach's left arm was cartwheeling, "¬°Vaya! ¬°vaya! ¬°vaya!" and Edmundo Amoros was flying for home. Perhaps a dozen feet from the waiting catcher, Clyde McCullough, Amoros literally became airborne, his feet thrusting ahead of him in an exuberant, looping slide. At about the same moment the ball streaked in from the shadowed depths of the outfield. It hit the grass halfway between third and home and bounded into McCullough's mitt a little below waist level—a perfect strike, just right, but a 20th of a second too late.
The constant hum of the Cuban crowd, a noise like the buzz of 10,000 bees, lifted sharply and was punctuated by individual cries: "¬°Bravo, Sandee!" for the slide; "¬°Terrífico, Minnee!" for the throw; and, from a few throats, "¬°Arriba, Bo-beeee!" for the third-base coach who had sent Amoros winging home. A few minutes later, when the rally ended, there were still shouts of "¬°Bo-beee! ¬°Bo-beee!" as the coach stumped in across the plate to the Almendares dugout. Bobby Bragan, manager of the Almendares Blues and the Cleveland Indians, late of Pittsburgh and a man sometimes described as Bad Boy Bragan, the Bumptious Busher, and even "Bobby Braggin'," did not acknowledge these salutes. Then, and for the duration of the game, he was all business—baseball business.
Actually, the run scored by Amoros was only one of several that helped Almendares defeat Marianao 5-1 and thus gain a half-game lead over the Tigers in the seesawing four-team Cuban winter league. However, for Bragan, the play exemplified the pleasures of a game that was rich both in immediate fulfillment and in the promise of future rewards. As a fierce competitor who came to Cuba not "for the $10,000 they're paying me but to get back in the swing of winning baseball," Bragan was delighted with Sandy Amoros' abandoned slide and the fact that it succeeded. As a man who must, even in January, have one eye turned a quarter of the way toward spring, he was almost equally pleased with Minnie Minoso's swift and accurate throw. On February 26 Minoso, along with the Almendares battery of Dick Brodowski and Russ Nixon, will report to Bragan's Cleveland training camp at Tucson.
For a U.S. manager (Bragan is the only one present) there is a kind of schizophrenia in Cuban baseball. Just as hoy y ma√±ana are inextricably fused (or confused) in Latin life, so are today and tomorrow jumbled together in the winter league. The hitter who helps you in December may kill you in May; and the pitcher you may be tempted to overwork in January could be the difference in June. About 30 of the nearly 100 performers employed by the four teams are major league players; most of the rest are from Triple-A teams with major league affiliations.
Bragan was hired by Cleveland on September 29, just nine days before the start of the Cuban season on October 8, and two months after he was fired by Joe L. Brown, the general manager of Pittsburgh, as manager of the seventh-place Pirates. The fact that his new employer was Cleveland and not some other club was, as far as his winter employment was concerned, great good luck. It diminished, if it did not entirely eliminate, any conflict of loyalties. For one thing, a half dozen Indian properties already were on the Almendares roster. For another, the Almendares general manager, Julio (Monchy) d'Arcos, is Cleveland's Cuba scout.
The dual relationship was subjected to some strain in November, after Frank Lane replaced Hank Green-berg as general manager at Cleveland. "Lane wanted me to quit Almendares and come right on up to Cleveland," Bragan said after the Friday night victory. "I just had to tell him I couldn't do that. These are real fans down here—real fans. I have to be mighty careful. They don't wanta see me doin' somethin' down here that might help later at Cleveland—not unless it helps Almendares first. They wanta win. So do I."
To win, or at least to have the chance to win, is of fundamental importance to Bragan, and the desire goes beyond the game of baseball to what is sometimes referred to cynically as The Game of Life. This means being accepted and liked on one's own terms. Bragan has made the terms pretty attractive to the Cubans. When he first came to Almendares, in the winter season of 1952-53, he was whistled (the Cuban equivalent of booed) as the only norteamericano manager in the Cuban League (the Havana Reds, the Marianao Tigers and the Cienfuegos Elephants all had and have Cuban managers). Bragan converted his Latin critics by leading Almendares to two championships, by learning to speak workable Spanish, by smoking black Cuban cigars and by behaving off field like a courtly but confident southern gentleman.
HOME RUN AT LUNCH
At noon of the day Brodowski pitched Almendares back into the lead, Bragan addressed a luncheon of the American Petroleum Club at the new Hotel Capri. Despite the tightness of the race, he was a relaxed and jaunty figure in a smartly cut blue sports jacket, gray flannel slacks, a starched, French-cuffed shirt and a conservative blue tie. Naturally enough, a lot of U.S. oilmen in Cuba are from Texas, and Bragan, who maintains a home in Fort Worth, was very much at ease with them. He told a number of Texas stories, all calculated to stroke the Texas ego ("Around Fort Worth I know a lot of oilmen. They don't have to wrap up any Christmas presents because most of their gifts are Cadillacs"); he introduced Mel Harder, the Cleveland pitching coach, who said he had come down to Havana to "look at a couple of pitchers who might help Cleveland out this year"; and he praised his new boss, Frank Lane, as having the same kind of daring that characterizes the venture-capital oil business. The next day the English-language Havana Post headlined its report of the talk: BOBBY BRAGAN HITS HOME RUN AT PETROLEUM CLUB LUNCHEON.
Sitting beside Bragan as he drove out to the stadium in the yellow Dodge convertible given him by Pittsburgh dealers a few days after the August firing, I found it hard to believe that this was the man Red Smith had described as "having the muffin-faced appearance of a Dead End Kid." The wan afternoon sun, peeking through blustery clouds, accented high, spare cheekbones in a face deep-tanned the color of a baseball mitt. It profiled an aquiline nose and touched the ridges of laugh wrinkles around the eyes and the mobile mouth. When he spoke, Bragan did not sound like a Bumptious Busher. The voice was high and husky, but softly southern, and the words floated in that carelessly ungrammatical stream that cultured Southerners have almost made a separate language, with unexpected emphasis and, often, a rising inflection at the end of a statement.
"This is a good place to play baseball—a good place," Bragan said. "Young ballplayer comes down here, he gets experience he needs, he keeps fit, he's ready. Old ballplayer can make some money and be in shape when spring trainin' starts. It's sort of a twilight zone, goin' up and com-in' down." Bragan maneuvered the Dodge deftly to avoid two senoritas who had strolled out against the green light, rightly confident of their ability to stop or at least slow traffic. "Ain't no place for a joy ride, though," Bragan said, by no means irrelevantly. "Been a few big stars, and a few not so big, figured it was an easy buck, nothin' but dames and Daiquiris, not much effort needed. They shaped up or got run off the island."
In his office-dressing room at the stadium Bragan undressed slowly. By the time he put on his long-billed baseball cap, a transformation had taken place. The uniform pants emphasized his heavy hips and thighs, making him look short and bunchy. The cap's shadow obliterated the highlighted cheekbones and lively eyes and made noticeable the slight recessiveness of Bragan's jaw and its accompanying double chin. At the last minute he stubbed out his cigar (he smokes four to seven cigars a day, all made for him by J. Cuesta, who for 24 years has been purveyor to Winston Churchill) and took a package of Beechnut chewing tobacco out of his locker. "Got a lot of this when I was back in Colorado at the major league meetings in December," Bragan said. "Two, three fellows on the team chew durin' games." His face broke into a mischievous, urchin grin. "I'm one of 'em," he said. With the chaw firmly lodged in one cheek, Bragan had now achieved the muffin look.
Robert Randall Bragan was born Oct. 30, 1918, in Birmingham, the fourth of nine children of George Washington Bragan, a cement contractor, and the former Corrinne Roberts. Bragan's father had played semipro baseball in Cuthbert, Ga., but he does not recall that there was any parental inclination to bring up the Bragan Nine as a ball club (two were girls, anyway). It will not surprise certain umpires, however, to learn that young Robert first became acquainted with baseball as a truant—from a funeral.
"I never knew nothin' about baseball till I was 7 years old," Bragan said, stretching comfortably in an armchair in the combination living-dining room of the Bragan's furnished apartment at the seaside Chateau Miramar. Outside the wind was whistling and the still-angry Caribbean was pounding audibly against the sea wall. Like all Cuban apartment houses, the Miramar is unheated. But Bragan's pretty, plump brownette wife, Gwen, had created an effect of cosiness by lighting candles on the nearby sideboard.
"When I was 7," Bragan resumed, "my granddaddy died, up in Nashville. That was George Roberts, my mother's daddy—he originated the hamburger. Concession man with a circus. Well. The whole family went up to Nashville, and right near the funeral parlor I saw some kids playin' sandlot ball. When the funeral started, my daddy noticed I was missin'. When it was over, that's where they found me. Out there on the sandlot, playin' ball."
THAT COLD WATER
Gwen Bragan got up to refill the guests' glasses from a well-stocked living room bar. One Scotch, one bourbon, and a ginger ale for the host.
"Don't you ever take a drink, Bobby?" Mel Harder asked.
"Never do. Never have," Bragan said, his nearly-black eyes lighting impishly. "We never had it around the house, for one thing, but I guess the real reason was a fellah my oldah sister was goin' with for a while when I was just in my teens. Sometimes he'd be a little liquored up when he brought her home, and his idea of a real funny joke was to get a bucket and come in where all us kids was asleep. He'd pull back the covers—and we'd get that cold water! I figured anything'd make a man do that, I didn't want no part of."
Bobby played baseball all through grade and high school. In the latter he attracted some scouting attention—enough to get an offer from Panama City in the Class D Alabama-Florida League. Alternating at shortstop and third base, he played 117 games for Panama City in 1937. He batted .285, made 40 errors and was paid $85 a month. The following year he moved up to Pensacola in the Southeastern League and in the summer of 1939 played 137 games at third base, hitting .311, batting in 95 runs (12 homers) and making only 11 errors for a fielding average of .975.
Nonetheless, he came back to Birmingham that fall in a state of indecision. His Pensacola salary was only $125 a month, and he was not yet convinced that he was cut out for a baseball career. The Bragans were devout Methodists, and a good deal of his off-season social life centered around the church. Accordingly, after the 1939 season he enrolled at Birmingham Southern, a local Methodist college.
"It's been printed I teach Sunday school when I'm home in Fort Worth," Bragan said, biting the end off a cigar and pausing to light it with care and respect. "I lead a men's Bible class sometimes, too, and I took some religious studies when I went to Birmingham Southern. I guess that's how some folks got the notion I studied for the ministry. I never got no clear call to preach, though. I was like a fellah they told about had a vision—he saw the letters G. P. real big up in the sky, and he decided they meant 'Go preach.' Well, he went to school two-three years before he found out they meant 'Go plow.' I got the word a little earlier."
In his first days as a student Bragan got another, much clearer, call. "I started goin' to those Boys Club dances," he said. "You know, the church sponsors 'em in Birmingham. That's where I met Gwen."
"He was much older than I was," Gwen beamed. "But I kinda liked him."
"I had matrimonial intentions from the very first night," Bobby said.
The Bragans smiled at each other across the coffee table. Gwen is fair, with a rounded face that is accented by a tightly pulled-back hairdo, and Bobby is dark as an Indian (Apache, not Cleveland) and rather resembles one. Yet at this moment, and despite the obvious disparities, they also seemed to resemble each other, as happily married people sometimes do or are imagined to do.
Bragan's decision to resume plowing a baseball furrow was made for him just before Christmas. Pensacola sold him to the Philadelphia Phillies for $3,000 and he got $600 of the sale price. He landed a regular job as shortstop and, just before the start of the 1941 season, he married Gwen.
"I come up as a shortstop," Bragan said, "but I found out I wasn't fast enough to hound that ball. I started doin' some catchin' in 1942. When I was traded to Brooklyn before the 1943 season it was partly as a catcher." Bragan has never regretted that trade, but not because it signaled any great upturn in his fortunes as a player. What it did do, ultimately, was bring him to the attention of Branch Rickey, who also came to Brooklyn in 1943.
At first Rickey didn't pay much mind (or much money) to his second-string catcher-infielder, but Bragan paid close attention to him, particularly to Rickey's memorable skull sessions on the art of baseball.
"Mr. Rickey was the greatest—the greatest," Bobby Bragan said. "He had a way of tellin' you things so you never forgot 'em. I remember one time Mr. Rickey chalked up the words in extremis on a little blackboard he had. 'Gentlemen,' he said, 'those words mean in extreme circumstances. Let me tell you a story of an unfortunate man who was dying of cancer.' " Bragan paused to draw on his cigar, and then interrupted his recreation of Rickey's doleful tale to say: "Sometimes you wouldn't know for four-five minutes what the hell he was talkin' about. But you'd find out, and it'd stick with you. The man dyin' of cancer was in extremis, Mr. Rickey said, and he was ready to accept the word of God. Up to then he hadn't been, and he'd got along all right. Mr. Rickey's point turned out to be: if you got a hitter who is hit-tin' good, don't worry about where he puts his feet or what he seems to be doin' wrong. Leave him alone. If he gets a slump he can't get out of, can't hit anymore at all, then move. When he's in extremis."
Unlike some of Rickey's students, Bragan was an avid and thoughtful listener. In due course the old man became aware of this and it pleased him. Durocher liked Bobby's hot competitive spirit in the field, too, but mind and spirit were not quite enough to make Bragan a first-class ballplayer. He participated in only 74 games in 1943, mostly as a catcher, and 96 in 1944, some of the time at shortstop. He did not hit well either year. In 1945, when the draft caught up with him, the future looked bleak.
Bragan was 27, the father of two children (Robert Jr. had been born in 1943, Gwenn—known then and now as Cissie—in 1944), had not saved very much of his $9,000-a-year salary and even in a period when many players were away at the wars had failed to establish himself as a regular, let alone a star. Now he was about to lose two critical years of playing time. Bragan went into the Army sure of only one thing—that he would have a job of some sort on his return.
SHAPE AND COLOR
In 1945 and 1946 Brooklyn finished third and second, respectively, an improvement that was of very little comfort to the absent Bragan, a second lieutenant on stateside duty. Not only were the stars returning, but his old mentor, Branch Rickey, was moving to change the shape—and color—of baseball. When Bragan reported at Vero Beach for the 1947 season he found a new, dark face in the lineup.
"I didn't like it," Bragan said, looking his questioner straight in the eye. "I was one of the ones that didn't. I went to Mr. Rickey and told him so. He said: 'Do you want to be traded?' and I said: 'Yes, I want to be traded.' " Bragan's mouth, which had drawn down at the corners, pulling the rest of his face with it into the pugnacious mask he often wears on the field, suddenly broke into a smile. "So Mr. Rickey didn't trade me," he said softly. "And in the next few months I found out what a helluva man Jackie Robinson was."
Not all southern ballplayers adjusted as well or as quickly as Bragan to the passing of the color line, and even now there is little social contact outside the park. Bragan himself does not pretend to be fully reconstructed, although he is not offended, either as a manager or a Southerner, by the fact that his new Cleveland star, Minnie Minoso, reportedly will receive $40,000 for the 1958 season against his own $27,500.
"I don't socialize with 'em," he said of the Negro members of the Almendares team (there are more colored than white). "But we get along good and everybody gets treated just alike in the dugout and locker room. A home run on that scoreboard is just as big no matter who hits it. They don't put no color mark on it. When I have to be away, my coach Sungo—Sungo Carrerras—manages the team. He's a good baseball man, and the white players take orders from him just like they would from me. And he's black—real black." (In late January, when Bragan had to spend 10 days in Cleveland, Carrerras took charge. By then Almendares was two games out, and Sungo neither lost nor made up ground.)
A decade of integrated baseball clearly has mellowed Bragan, but it still is obvious that 1947 was a painful year for him. While Jackie Robinson was becoming Rookie of the Year, Bragan was rusting in the bullpen. He caught only 25 games, batted a wistful .194 and knew only one moment of glory. As a pinch hitter in the sixth game of the World Series he doubled home a run that helped the Dodgers win 8-6.
But the year was by no means wasted. "Sittin' out there in the bullpen, I got so I'd watch Burt Shotton and try to decide what I'd do if I was managin'," Bragan recalls. (This was the year of Durocher's suspension.) By contract time Bragan had reached a crucial conclusion. "I went to Mr. Rickey again," he said. "I told him I'd like a chance to manage. 'I ain't got the tools to be a big-money player,' I said, 'but you don't have to run fast to be a manager.' Mr. Rickey said he'd let me know."
Bragan had played in only nine games when Rickey telephoned him on the Fourth of July weekend. "Mr. Rickey said, 'You interested in the Fort Worth job? It's open.' Forty-eight hours later I was on the way to Tulsa to pick up the team." Bragan found he could still run fast enough for Class AA ball, and as catcher-manager he brought Fort Worth its first Texas League championship in nine years. He also began a romance with the city, shared by Gwen and Robert Jr. and Cissie, which appears likely to last his lifetime.
"It is a wonderful city," Gwen said, her eyes crinkling with delight at the very thought of it. "You know Raahbut Jr. and Cissie come down here for Christmas, they couldn't wait to get back home. Raahbut's parents are spendin' the winter there with 'em, they have all their friends there, they just don' want ever leave. The mornin' they were goin' back I went in to wake up Raahbut Jr.—and that usually isn't easy—and I said, 'This is the day the plane goes,' and he jumped right outa bed and said, 'Well, what am Ah waitin' for!' "
When Bobby Bragan got home to Fort Worth a week or so after the Pittsburgh firing last summer, he told Blackie Sherrod, then the sports editor of the Fort Worth Press and a SPORTS ILLUSTRATED correspondent:
"Managing at Pittsburgh was like a guy 6 feet tall walking down a five-foot tunnel. Every time you raised your head, you got a bump. You kept looking for a tall place so you could stand up straight and look around. But there wasn't any. I wanted to make trades, a bunch of 'em. The way I figure it, a second-division club can't afford to stand pat. You can't afford to wait five years to develop players. You want the finished product in the big leagues, not a training school. But I couldn't get Joe Brown to make the trades. When I get back, I won't manage any different, on the field or in the clubhouse. No one has complained on that score. My No. 1 sin in the big leagues was not winning. No. 2 was criticizing any and all who kept me from it."
THE WILD DAYS
Both Bragan and Joe L. Brown, the son of the motion picture comedian, came to Pittsburgh at the start of the 1956 season. Brown succeeded Branch Rickey as general manager, and Bragan replaced Fred Haney. Rickey, though pushed upstairs as chairman of the board, was instrumental in the selection of Bragan. Brown was the choice of Thomas Johnson, now vice-president of the club and never a great friend of Rickey.
Bragan had gone to the Hollywood stars of the Pacific Coast League in 1953, and there—just as in Texas-he brought in a championship his first season. For a few wild days in June of 1956 it looked as though he might repeat the formula at Pittsburgh. Then Dale Long stopped hitting home runs and the Pirates started to skid toward the basement, where they had resided for four of Rickey's five years as general manager. In 1957 all of the magic was gone and Bragan (who is 5 feet 11 inches) got out of the five-foot tunnel only by getting fired.
THE WAY IT WAS
In Havana, on Tuesday, it was still storming and the evening's game was called off. "¬°Suspendido!" Bragan said, venturing beyond the "baseball Spanish" he likes to claim is the limit of his linguistic ability. He and Gwen had come over to the Havana Riviera Hotel for cocktails. In the restaurant bar Bragan stared sternly at the waiter and said, very distinctly, "Jugo tomate." The waiter looked stunned, but when Bragan scowled he hurried off to get the juice.
Bragan considered the remarks he had made to Sherrod some five months before. "That's about the way it was," he said thoughtfully. "Joe Brown and I were just too far apart, and Mr. Rickey wasn't in control. He had been forced out. Oh, he was still supposed to be a consultant, and I know he used to sit near the phone and hope somebody'd call up and ask his advice. I guess I was the only one that did. Brown didn't."
Gwen Bragan sniffed. "Everybody but Joe Brown loved Raahbut in Pittsburgh," she said indignantly. "When we started out for home, we had to drive clear across Pittsburgh. And every time—every time—Raahbut stopped for a traffic light people in cars alongside would call out, 'Good luck, Bobby!' or, 'Sorry to see you go, Bobby!' or even"—she giggled—" 'They fired the wrong man.' It was that way clear across town." Although a native of Elizabeth, N.J., Gwen Best Bragan grew up in Birmingham, and neither her accent nor her loyalties have been modified by forays into the North. She is a United Daughter of the Confederacy, Robert is "Raahbut" and "fired" is not "fiahed" but something very close to "fahd."
While there is no doubt of Bragan's personal popularity with Pittsburgh fans, a good many baseball men wonder if he would have fared any better if Rickey had been in control. Certainly Fred Haney had as much trouble getting Rickey to build up the club as Bragan did with Brown, and the team Bragan inherited on his arrival in Pittsburgh, with all its Class AA (or worse) players, was a Rickey creation. Be that as it may, in Bragan's own mind his problem was Joe Brown, and by "freely criticizing" Brown in the press he made his own dismissal almost inevitable.
There were those who thought that these pop-offs and Bragan's widely publicized hassles with umpires left his future more than dark, but the Cleveland owners were not among them. Behind the publicity barrage his fellow tradesmen saw a man who was, as Bragan once said admiringly of Casey Stengel, "managing with abandon." He brought to bear all the theory learned from Rickey in the old Brooklyn skull sessions, and the sort of aggressive determination he had observed in Leo Durocher from the Dodger bullpen. He dared to tamper with baseball's traditional batting order, moving his strongest hitters to the first and second rungs, where they were likely to get an extra time at bat. He scorned suggestions that he use his best pitchers only against second-division clubs and thus shoot for a sixth-place finish. "As long as I'm managing," he told one reporter, "they're going to get the best I've got, whether it's the first inning or the ninth, in Brooklyn or Milwaukee or any place else."
It is Bragan's misfortune that, while baseball men appreciated his managing techniques, neither baseball men nor the public generally got the point he was attempting to make in his run-ins and chase-outs with the umpires.
"The fact is," Bragan said, sipping a second glass of tomato juice, "I ain't had trouble with many umpires. Just a few egomaniacs—guys that thought they was God in a blue suit. I only got run once my last year in the Coast League, but when I got up to Pittsburgh Larry Goetz was wait-in' for me. Maybe he'd heard about a stunt or two I'd pulled out there the year before and figured I was a big ole showboat and he'd show me. He sure tried.
"This last year I only got chased five times, and four of those five was by the umpire team of Dascoli, Landes, Secory and Baker. That was Goetz's old team, and I guess the stigma lingered on. You ran a piece in SPORTS ILLUSTRATED about how many people they chased [SI, Aug. 19]. I guess a lot of people think I got thrown out for stunts like the orange juice, but that's not so. Never. Those stunts come after I got run for nothin'—for doin' my job as a manager and tryin' to win. That's when I used the stunts—to show up the showboat umpires!"
It is true that Bragan often has gone quietly when thumbed out of a game, aware that in the heat of the moment he had stepped out of line. At the time of our conversation he had been "run" three times in Cuban League games. In none of the three cases had he felt sufficiently injured to "show up" the umpire. Bragan is more right than he perhaps realizes, however, when he "guesses" that many people believe the juice came before the thumb. To that degree, the stunts have failed as criticism.
THE HAPPY SHIP
As an Old Testament, eye-for-an-eye Christian, with a compulsion to strike back at once against what he considers injustice, Bragan may have to exercise real restraint in Cleveland in his relations with General Manager Frank Lane. Unlike the remote Joe Brown, Lane is never very far from his manager. How would Bragan feel, I asked, if Lane loudly, publicly and profanely second-guessed him, as he did Fred Hutchinson at St. Louis?
"I don't know," he said, after a long, thoughtful pause, "I don't know how I'd feel. Have to wait and see, I guess. So far I've got along fine with Frank Lane. Neither one of us likes sixth place [Cleveland's position at the end of the 1957 American League race] any better'n we do seventh or eighth. And he's got guts—it takes guts to make trades, and he makes 'em.
"I'll say one thing, though," Bragan went on, "this ain't gonna be no one-man ball club—Frank Lane's, or Bobby Bragan's, or anybody's. Take Eddie Stanky, gonna be my third-base coach. He come down here to see me, I said: 'Eddie, you know as much about managin' a baseball club as I do. I ain't gonna bother you, but I'm gonna expect you to have that infield ready and sharp!' Take Mel Harder. He's the pitchin' coach, it's up to him how he handles his pitchers, just so I got the pitcher I need when I need him.
"I like to run a happy ship, but I don't coddle ballplayers. Man makes a mistake, I tell him about it right then, I don't think: 'Oh, well, maybe he'll do better next time.' Other hand, I don't pick at a man who's tryin'."
Bragan fingered the lapel of his canary-yellow corduroy sports jacket. Then he leaned forward, almost truculently, and for the first time off the field the muffin bunch appeared around his mouth. When he spoke his voice had dropped several notes and there was a bit of a rasp in it.
"A winnin' ball club's got to be a mad ball club—maaad!" Bragan said. "Not mad at me, though, or the coaches. That don't do no good. Mad at the other team. Mad at 'em 'cause they might even try to beat you! That's the kind of club I aim to have at Cleveland. That's the kind I got here."
LOOKING LIKE A TEXAS OILMAN WHO SEES A GUSHER IN THE SKY, BRAGAN PONDERS HIS PROSPECTS IN THE AMERICAN LEAGUE
ORANGE JUICE INCIDENT which preceded Bragan's discharge by Pittsburgh occurred when Umpire Stan Landes (second from right) banished manager from Milwaukee game after Bragan held nose over a decision at second base. Instead of obeying order to leave, Bragan strolled into the dugout, got some orange pop and returned to mid-field where he offered Landes and his colleagues a drink. For this calculated bit of impertinence Bragan was fined $100 by National League President Warren Giles.
THE BRAGAN FAMILY was partially reunited in Fort Worth last week when Gwen came home from Cuba. Here she and Cissie, 13, look admiringly at Robert Jr., 14.