Mary Frances Bragan, the former Madame Chairman of the Jacksonville Suns (Class AA; Southern League) whose family had a significant influence on the franchise, has passed away at age 95.
Mary Frances Bragan was the wife of Peter Bragan Sr., who purchased the franchise in 1984. She would served as Madame Chairman for decades, while he led the franchise for decades until his death in 2012, at which point their son Peter Bragan Jr. assumed leadership of the team.
Over their decades of leadership, the Bragans set the tone for a successful period that included dramatic attendance increases and the opening of the Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville in 2003. Mary Frances Bragan became a fixture over that period, and was a consistent presence at games both at the current ballpark and its predecessor, Wolfson Park. Upon her death, she is being remembered by the team–which rebranded as the Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp prior to the 2017 season–as a franchise institution, who had an influential role in the history of professional baseball in Jacksonville. More from the Florida Times-Union:
For years, the Bragans were an institution at Suns games, ringing a bell — first at Wolfson Park and later at the Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville — to celebrate each Suns run and victory.
Under the Bragans’ ownership, baseball in Jacksonville found stability and growth. In 1985, the family’s first full year of ownership, the franchise (then known as the Jacksonville Expos) drew only 82,907 fans for the season. But that number grew to 300,538 by 2014, the year before the Bragans sold the Suns.
The playing field at the Baseball Grounds still bears the name of Bragan Field in the family’s honor.
In a statement, the Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp said, “We extend our deepest condolences to the Bragan family on the passing of Mary Frances Bragan. She was a fixture as chairman of the club at Wolfson Park & the Baseball Grounds for many seasons. Our thoughts & prayers are with the Bragan family during this time. She will be missed.”
The Bragans owned the franchise until 2015, when they sold it to current owner Ken Babby.