It is truly the end of an era: the finale of the Jacksonville Suns (Class AA; Southern League) season means there will be no Bragan in professional baseball for the first time since 1936, as Peter Bragan Jr. retires as team owner.
Peter “Pedro” Bragan Jr. and family sold the Suns to businessman Ken Babby (who also own the Akron RubberDucks) last March, with one stipulation: he and his staff run the team through the end of the season. That last day was Monday, when the Suns ended the season. The game was rained out after two innings, but there was time to retire number 10 (more on that later) and honor Bragan for his long service to the game.
Brothers Peter, Bobby, Jimmy, Frank and Lionel Bragan all worked in baseball in some capacity. The Bragan era began in 1937 when a 19-year-old Bobby Bragan signed with the Class D Panama City Pelicans and began a career that saw him play parts of seven seasons with the Phillies and Dodgers before embarking on a managerial career that saw him pilot the Braves, Pirates and Indians. He later served as president of the Texas League (1969-1975) and Minor League Baseball (1975-1978). Peter Bragan Sr. and family bought the Suns from Lou Eliopoulos in 1984 and built up the franchise over the years. And his cousin, the late Bobby Bragan Jr., once headed the NY-Penn League’s Elmira Pioneers.
So it’s certainly the end of an era when the last Bragan walks away from the game. From Jacksonville.com:
“I guess this is poetic justice that after 31 years, I get rained out on my last day,” Bragan said with a laugh. “But this has been a great day. To have so many people stop by and wish me and Nancy well, to thank us for what we’ve done here and to tell me how much they’ve enjoyed coming to the ballpark, that’s a great feeling.”
Bragan started getting special feelings before the game started. P.A. announcer Wes Mitchell informed the crowd that the No. 10 was being officially retired as a Suns number and that there would be a picture of it permanently on the right field wall.
The No. 10 has been a favorite of the Bragan family for many years. Bragan’s uncle, Bobby Bragan, wore that number when he was manager of the Atlanta Braves. It was a favorite number of Peter Bragan Sr., who insisted each year that the No. 10 Suns jersey not be assigned to anyone but instead be brought to the front office for safe-keeping.