Ramón Bragaña Palacios
- Bats Right, Throws Right
- Height 5' 11", Weight 180 lb.
Ramón Bragaña was one of the greatest Cuban pitchers of the 1940s, taking over the title from Dolf Luque, but he was too dark-skinned to get a shot in Major League Baseball. The other candidate for the top Cuban hurler of the era was Martin Dihigo. Bragaña began playing in Cuba's winter league in 1929 and in the summer in the Negro Leagues at about the same time. In '30, he was 5-3 in his first regular playing time. That winter, Bragaña lost a 2-1 pitching duel to Carl Hubbell in Cuba; Bill Terry was 4 for 4 off of Bragana, who allowed 11 hits, but no unearned runs.
In 1937, Bragaña joined many other Negro Leaguers in playing in the Dominican Republic, lured by the money offered by dictator Rafael Trujillo. That winter he again faced some major-leaguers, when the New York Giants came to Cuba. Bragaña won game 3 in Havana by a 6-1 score. Terry said "Ramon Bragaña is just about as great a pitcher as I ever saw. He had speed, a wonderful assosrtment of curves, and control. Didn't pass a man." Bragaña pitched a 1-1 tie in game 6, lasting 12 innings; in 21 innings against New York Bragaña had allowed 2 runs and 10 hits. Bragana drove in the only run for the Cuban team that game. Terry said that if Bragana were lighter-skinned, he would have signed him for the Giants.
Bragaña was 8-5 with a 2.45 ERA his first year in Mexico (he also hit .303 and slugged .580, 1 HR behind league leader Angel Castro) and then went 8-6 with a 2.47 ERA the next season. Competition became tougher in 1940 when Hall of Fame enshrinees Martin Dihigo, Leon Day and Hilton Smith were all pitching in the Liga. Bragaña put them all to shame, posting a league-best 2.58 ERA and going 16-8 for the Veracruz Blues; his 144 strikeouts were second to Pullman Porter. Bragaña was starting a 12-year run with the Blues, during which they won four titles.
In 1941-42, Ramón set an all-time record in his homeland, throwing 39 2/3 consecutive scoreless innings in the Cuban Winter League.
In '42, Bragaña put on a great two-way show. He hit .299 with 17 homers, slugging .519 with an OBP around .410. On the mound he was 22-10 with a 3.73 ERA - in most seasons it would have led the Liga in wins but that year he only tied with Dihigo for second behind Jesus Valenzuela. Bragaña was only 3 HR behind Monte Irvin for the league lead. Overall, Bragaña hit .243/~.352/.365 in 18 years in Mexico.
1944 was a record-setting season for Bragaña. He became the only 30-game winner in the history of the Mexican League when he went 30-8 to lead the Blues to another title. He struck out a league-best 144 and had a 3.29 ERA. His 325 innings that year also were a league record. Bragaña had similar stats to Sal Maglie when both were in the Liga in 1948, but the 39-year old was fading - he would go just 55-57 in his final 8 seasons, finally retiring at the age of 47 after a 2-5, 4.65 season in 1955. In 1951, he intentionally walked fellow Cuban René González with the bases loaded, the only time that took place in Mexican League history.
Bragaña also continued to dazzle in Cuban winter leagues for most of his career. In 1941 he led the league with 9 wins and pitched 4 straight shutouts, beating Dihigo in the championship contest.
Sources: Viva Beisbol! newsletter by Bruce Baskin, The Mexican League: Comprehensive Player Statistics by Pedro Treto Cisneros, The Complete Book of Baseball's Negro Leagues by John Holway, Cuban Baseball: A Statistical History by Jorge Figueredo
Year-by-Year Managerial Record
|1944||Azules de Veracruz||Mexican League||1st||none League Champs||Replaced Rogers Hornsby|
|1945||Azules de Veracruz||Mexican League||42-48||5th|
|1946||Azules de Veracruz||Mexican League||--||--||replaced by Mickey Owen|
|1952||Charros de Jalisco||Mexican League||--||--||replaced by Jesus Diaz|
|1956||Nuevo Laredo Owls||Mexican League||6th||replaced Leon Kellman July 1|