Thursday, October 20, 2011

Here's to a baseball legend

I moved to Jacksonville, Florida in December of 1980, and almost 31 years later it's still my home.

One of the first things I remember about that first Jacksonville spring, in 1981, was the fact that I was living in a city with a professional baseball team.

The Jacksonville Suns have been a part of the Jacksonville community for a very long time, and pro baseball in the River City dates back to 1902.

The Suns have been run by the Bragan family for 26 years, and for 24 of those years the General Manager of the team has been Peter "Pedro" Bragan, Jr.

In 2012, season 27 will start with a brand new GM, as Pedro Bragan has stepped down as the teams GM.

The new GM will be Chris Peters, who has been with the Suns for four years, the last two, 2010 and 2011, as the assistant GM.

Pedro will remain on as the teams President.

The Bragan name and family have been around baseball for a very long time.

Bobby Bragan, Pedro's Uncle, played big league baseball for the Dodgers and Phillies, and later managed in the big leagues for the Braves, Indians, and Pirates.

Bobby's brother, Peter Bragan, is the owner of the Suns, and Pedro's father.

Pedro and the Bragan's have meant a lot to the City of Jacksonville in their time here, and not just as the owners of the baseball team.

The Suns are always active in the community, including a tradition that represents the soul of the Suns.

Every school year Pedro Bragan goes to local Jacksonville schools, wearing a Suns uniform, and recites the famous baseball poem "Casey at the Bat."

Any student who learns the poem and can recite it back to Pedro earns a Suns baseball bat of fielding glove.

The Suns were playing in old Wolfson Park when I first moved here, and in 2003 the team moved into one of the best baseball parks you will ever visit.
The Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville opened in 2003, and the Suns routinely lead the Southern League in attendance.

If you get to Jacksonville during the baseball season stop by and watch the Suns play.

While you're at it, look behind home plate, on the main concourse, and look for the Bragan family sitting together watching their baseball team.

You can't miss them, just look, or listen for the Bragan Bell, which goes off after every Suns HR or team win.
That bell has rang quite a bit over the past 26 years, including Back to Back Southern League Championships in 2009 and 2010.

Stop and say hello to the Bragans, you will not be disappointed.

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