Bobby Bragan, Larry Jansen and Gene Lillard are the newest members of the Pacific Coast League Hall of Fame.Bobby Bragan, Larry Jansen and Gene Lillard are the newest members of the Pacific Coast League Hall of Fame.
Robert Randall “Bobby” Bragan, one of professional baseball’s all-time great luminaries, spent five seasons in the Pacific Coast League as a player/manager, winning the league championship in 1953 while managing and catching for the Hollywood Stars. In addition to his three seasons with the Stars, Bragan managed for two years with the Spokane Indians, compiling a 443-385 (.535) career managerial mark in the PCL.
Bragan’s career also included seven years as a manager at the major league level, including three seasons with the Milwaukee Braves and one with the Atlanta Braves following the team’s relocation prior to the 1966 campaign. After his tenure with the Braves, Bragan went on to become president of the Texas League from 1969-1974, followed by a three-year term as the president of Minor League Baseball from 1975-77.
Bragan passed away on January 21, 2010 at his home Fort Worth, Texas. He was 92 years old.
Lawrence Joseph “Larry” Jansen had one of the greatest single-season pitching performances in Pacific Coast League history, going 30-6 with a 1.57 ERA for the San Francisco Seals in 1946. Jansen, a Verboort, Ore., native, went on to have a remarkable nine-year big league career, finishing second to Brooklyn’s Jackie Robinson in the 1947 Rookie of the Year balloting as a member of the New York Giants.
Jansen returned to the PCL for six more seasons, winning 28 games in three years with the Seattle Rainiers from 1955-57 and 13 more as a member of the Portland Beavers from 1958-60. In all, Jansen was 102-62 (.622) in parts of 10 PCL seasons and 122-89 (.578) in the major leagues.
Jansen died on October 10, 2009, at the age of 89.
Robert Eugene “Gene” Lillard, a third baseman, shortstop and pitcher, joins the Pacific Coast League Hall of Fame in the 75th anniversary of his legendary 1935 campaign as a member of the Los Angeles Angels. During that remarkable season, Lillard, just 21 years of age, batted .361, slugged .684 and hit 56 home runs – still a PCL record.
After being summoned to the majors the next season by the Chicago Cubs, Lillard struggled at the plate and quickly found himself back in the minor leagues. He tried his hand at pitching, winning 30 games in two PCL seasons prior to his 25th birthday, but again struggled when called up to the majors. Lillard bounced around professional baseball for a few more seasons prior to World War II.
After the war, Lillard returned to baseball and rediscovered his power stroke, clubbing 157 homers between 1946-54 during stops in Sacramento, Oakland, Phoenix, Tucson, Ventura, Bakersfield, Calgary and Fresno. He finished his career with 345 minor league home runs, 174 of which came in the PCL.
Lillard passed away on April 12, 1991, in Goleta, California.
About the PCL Hall of Fame:
The Pacific Coast League Hall of Fame was created by the Helms Athletic Foundation, which beginning in 1936 operated Halls of Fame for Major League Baseball, Golf, College Basketball, Tennis, Swimming, Auto Racing, Professional Football, Track and Field, and College Football. In 1952, the PCL Hall of Fame ceased operation, but was brought back in 2003 in conjunction with the Pacific Coast League’s Centennial Celebration.
Share your news with the baseball community. Send it to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Subscribers to the weekly Ballpark Digest newsletter see features before they're posted to the site. You can sign up for a free subscription at the Newsletter Signup Page.