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Bobo Brayton, longtime WSU baseball coach, dies

PULLMAN — Frederick Charles “Bobo” Brayton, the Washington State University baseball coach with 1,162-career victories, passed away Saturday morning in Pullman. He was 89.

“On behalf of Washington State University, I offer our condolences to Eileen and the entire Brayton family,” Washington State Director of Athletics Bill Moos said. “In my opinion, there has never been a greater Cougar icon than Bobo. Like so many, my life was touched and inspired by this wonderful teacher, mentor and friend. He will be dearly missed. I will take it upon myself to see that his legacy lives on for generations and that scores of future Cougars are made aware of this great man.”

After playing one season of basketball and baseball at WSU, Brayton enlisted in the Army Air Corps and served 18 months during World War II. When Brayton returned to Pullman, he played three seasons on the diamond (1946-48) as a shortstop and three on the gridiron (1947-49) as a two-way player, ending his collegiate career with eight letters.

Under the tutelage of Arthur “Buck” Bailey, Brayton was a three-time All-Northern Division performer in baseball. As team captain in 1947-48, he led the Cougars to back-to-back league titles and appearances in the NCAA District 8 playoffs. Brayton batted .323 with a team-best three home runs in conference play during the 1947 campaign and was a First Team All-American.

After graduating from Washington State in 1950, Brayton entered coaching, accepting the head position at Yakima Valley Community College. During his 11 seasons there (1951-61), his teams won 251 games, 10 division titles, and nine state championships. In 1961, when Bailey announced his retirement after 32 years in the Cougar dugout, Brayton took over.

Brayton skippered Washington State for 33 seasons (1962-94) and won nearly 70 percent of his games. His Cougar squads captured 21 conference titles, made 10 NCAA postseason appearances and a pair of trips to the College World Series (1965, 1976). Together, Bailey and Brayton combined to win two-thirds of their games in 65 seasons. The current Cougar facility is named Bailey-Brayton Field in their honor.

In 1975, the NCAA adopted a 32-team regional format, currently 64 teams, known as the “Brayton Plan,” so named because it came during Brayton’s tenure as the chair of the College World Series Committee.

At the time of his retirement, Brayton’s victories ranked fourth on the NCAA all-time list. Among his numerous awards and honors are inclusion as a member of the College Baseball Hall of Fame, State of Washington Sports Hall of Fame, Inland Empire Sports Hall of Fame, WSU Athletic Hall of Fame and Yakima Valley Community College Athletic Hall of Fame.

 

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