Jim Fregosi, baseball All-Star and manager, dies at 71


Jim Fregosi of the California Angels in Palm Springs, Calif. in 1968. Fregosi, a former All-Star who won more than 1,000 games as a manager for four teams, has died after an apparent stroke. He was 71. (AP)
February 15, 2014

Jim Fregosi, a six-time all-star shortstop with the Los Angeles Angels who later managed the Angels and the rowdy 1993 National League champion Philadelphia Phillies, died Feb. 14 at a hospital in Miami. He was 71.

He had been hospitalized after apparently having a stroke while on a cruise with baseball alumni. His death was announced by the Atlanta Braves, for whom Mr. Fregosi worked as a special assistant to the general manager.

Popular on and off the field, full of opinions and with an outsized personality, Mr. Fregosi could be argumentative and fun-loving. He often poked fun at his part in one of baseball’s most lopsided trades — the deal that sent him to the New York Mets for a young, wild pitcher named Nolan Ryan.

Along with the Phillies and Angels, Mr. Fregosi managed the Chicago White Sox and Toronto Blue Jays. He took over the White Sox in the middle of the 1986 season after Tony La Russa was fired and led the team through 1988. After managing the Phillies from 1991 through 1996, Mr. Fregosi was Toronto’s skipper 1999 and 2000.

Mr. Fregosi was only 19 when he first played with the Angels in the expansion team’s first season, 1961. He played shortstop early in his career before switching to other infield positions and was an all-star in 1964 and from 1966-70. He had his finest season in 1970, when he hit .278 with 22 home runs and 82 runs batted in. He won a Gold Glove for being the top defensive shortstop in the American League in 1967. The Angels retired his No. 11 in 1988.

Mr. Fregosi left the Angels in a trade after the 1971 season that sent him to the Mets for a package of players, including Ryan. Mr. Fregosi played just 146 games over two seasons for the Mets and hit .233 with five home runs. Ryan became a Hall of Fame pitcher and set the major-league single-season record for strikeouts, with 383, for the Angels in 1973.

Mr. Fregosi later played for the Texas Rangers and Pittsburgh Pirates before beginning his managerial career with the Angels in April 1978 — two days after his final game as a player with the Pirates.

He had a career average of .265 with 151 homers and 706 RBIs.

As manager of the Phillies in the 1990s, Mr. Fregosi handled a team that included several talented but rough-edged players, including Lenny Dykstra and John Kruk and pitchers Curt Schilling and Mitch “Wild Thing” Williams. The Phillies reached the 1993 World Series, losing to Toronto in Game 6 on a walk-off home run by Joe Carter.

“Jim Fregosi was the reason that 1993 was one of the most exciting years in Philadelphia sports history,” Dykstra said.

Former Phillies catcher Darren Daulton called Mr. Fregosi “the best manager I’ve ever played for. He was the one that taught me how to be a leader.”

James Louis Fregosi was born April 4, 1942, in San Francisco and excelled in baseball, football, basketball and track in high school. He signed with the Boston Red Sox out of high school and went to the Angels in the 1960 expansion draft.

Survivors include his wife, Joni Fregosi, and five children.

Mr. Fregosi capped a career of more than 50 years in baseball as a special assistant to Atlanta general manager Frank Wren, scouting other teams for the Braves.

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