The bell goes silent: Peter Bragan Sr., owner of the Jacksonville Suns (Class AA; Southern League) and a member of one of baseball’s grand families, passed away on July 7, at the age of 89.
The cause of death: heart failure. Bragan Sr. had been hospitalized for other reasons and had missed a birthday celebration at the July 3 Suns game, which drew over 11,000 fans to the Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville.
Bragan grew up in a baseball family that included brothers Bobby, Jimmy, Frank and Lionel. Peter Bragan Sr. and family bought the Suns from Lou Eliopoulos in 1984 and built up the franchise over the years. Bobby Bragan, began his minor-league managerial career in 1948 with the Fort Worth Cats (Texas League), took over the presidency of the Texas League in 1968 and ascended to the MiLB presidency in 1975, serving a three-year term. And his cousin, the late Bobby Bragan Jr., once headed the NY-Penn League’s Elmira Pioneers. And his son, Peter “Pedro” Bragan Jr. is team president of the Suns after serving as general manager for 24 of the past 27 years.
Under his family ownership — his wife, Mary Frances Bragan, is Madame Chairman of the Suns — the franchise became a cornerstone of the Southern League, winning championships and upgrading the team’s ballpark situation from Wolfson Park to the Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville.
He was best known for a permanent padded seat on the concourse alongside Mary Frances, with a bell between them; he’d ring that bell when the Suns scored.
A memorial service is planned for this week; he’ll be buried later in Birmingham.
Image courtesy of the Jacksonville Suns.
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