Major League Baseball lost one of the last true baseball men left in the game, as former player, manager, and current scout Jim Fregosi passed away due to complications from multiple strokes suffered earlier this week. He was 71.
Fregosi had been attending a MLB Alumni Cruise in the Cayman Islands when he suffered a stroke earlier this week. After a few days in a Miami hospital, he was taken off of life support late last night and passed away shortly after 2:00am EST.
An 18-year veteran as a players during the 1960’s and 70’s, and then later a manager for 15 years, Fregosi was one of the most respected men in the game, always willing to take a young player under his arm or tell a story to any available ear. He was respected across the game, both in the clubhouse and by the media alike, spurring an outpouring of reactions across Twitter this morning as news of his passing made its way through the crowd.
So sorry to hear about the passing of Jim Fregosi. A baseball man to the core and a true original. Rest in peace.
— Jerry Crasnick (@jcrasnick) February 14, 2014
Jim Fregosi was a ballplayer's ballplayer, then a manager's manager, and most recently a scout's scout. Respected in all areas of the game.
— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) February 14, 2014
Don't know why but every time I saw Jim Fregosi, I thought of dad…both baseball lifers that adored the game. Mr. Fregosi will be missed.
— Victor Rojas (@VictorRojas29) February 14, 2014
Oakland As executive Billy Owens on Jim Fregosi: "He was the John Wayne of baseball. No doubt about it."
— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) February 14, 2014
Fregosi of course had two separate ties to the Toronto Blue Jays. Firstly, he managed the upstart 1993 Philadelphia Phillies, who went all the way to the World Series before losing in six games to the Blue Jays , the second half of their back-to-back championships.
Jim Fregosi would again tie in with the Blue Jays in 1999, but this time as the team’s manager. In two seasons in Toronto, Fregosi guided the team to a 167-157 record, which was good enough for back-to-back third place finished in the American League East. He would be replaced for the 2001 season by Buck Martinez.
Over the course of 15 years as a manager, Fregosi was 1028-1094 with only the one pennant under his belt with the 1993 Phillies.
As a player, Fregosi appeared in 1902 games for the Los Angeles Angels, Texas Rangers, New York Mets, and Pittsburgh Pirates. For his career, he slashed .265/.338/.398 with 151 home runs and 706 RBI. That was good for a career WAR of 48.7 according to Baseball-Reference and 44.2 according to FanGraphs.
However, his value transcended mere statistics on a baseball card. Jim Fregosi was a great ambassador for the game and he will be greatly missed.