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Bragan sets record, gets ejected

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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 4 1/2 innings were played, making the game official and giving Bragan the record, he was at an autograph table behind home plate. 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.