Friday, February 14, 2014

Jim Fregosi (1942-2014)

1992 Medford Phillies #11
I was very sad to learn of the passing of former Phillies manager Jim Fregosi earlier this morning.  By all accounts, Fregosi was a genuinely great guy and the baseball world is mourning his loss.

Fregosi came to the Phillies in May 1989, hired by his good friend Lee Thomas to be the GM's special assistant.  He spent the 1990 season as the team's minor league pitching instructor/special assignment coach before briefly joining the broadcast booth for the start of the 1991 season.  On April 23, 1991, Fregosi replaced the fired Nick Leyva as the team's new manager, inheriting a team that would see major changes over the course of the season.  His team finished in last place in 1992, but they shocked all of us, and won our hearts in the process, by defeating the Braves in the N.L.C.S. and advancing to the World Series in 1993.

Fregosi's next three seasons with the Phillies were rough, and he was let go following the 1996 campaign. His final record with the Phils was 431-463, placing him fourth on the franchise's list of all-time wins by manager behind Charlie Manuel (780), Gene Mauch (645) and Danny Ozark (594).

Fregosi appeared on a number of Phillies baseball cards between 1991 and 1996, with my favorite easily being the team issued card picturing him at the 1993 All-Star game surrounded by his players.


Mark Hoyle said...

Didn't realize but Fregosi was originally signed by the Redsox in 1960

Steve F. said...

Yours is the first mention I saw of him both being a minor league pitching instructor/special assignment coach and also of him being a broadcaster. I actually don't remember the latter but I saw mention of it when Googling his Phillies background over the weekend.

As to the former though, I do have a good memory of it. In the summer of 1990, I asked him how it felt to have been traded for Nolan Ryan (who was obviously still one of the best active pitchers at the time). Jim was sitting in the R-Phils bullpen with some players and one of them said something like, "Shut up--you were traded for Nolan Ryan?" I had given him a card to sign and he looked on the back and said "Yeah, this is the card. Look, it says it on the back." Anyway, he was gruff but very friendly and the tributes to him that I've seen have all mentioned that. Here's a nice tribute worth reading with a great story from Sal Agostinelli:

By the way, look at all the cancer that the 1993 Phils have had!

One more thing--did you know that a Munsters episode was inspired by him? Butch Patrick, who played Eddie, was a big fan (since Fregosi was perhaps the LA Angels' biggest star at the time), and for one episode they needed to have some exotic name for a curse that went along with an emerald. Butch suggested they name it the Fregosi Emerald and the Fregosi curse, which they did.

I can't find confirmation of it on the web, but I remember hearing the story clearly--it may have been either on a TVLand baseball special that I have on VHS or else an interview I read with Fregosi.

Jim from Downingtown said...

Re: the 1993 Phillies' cancer tendency

Someone asked Larry Bowa about that in a TV interview following Fregosi's death. Apparently, there are rumors that something at Veterans Stadium may be to blame.

Jim said...

Steve - Great stuff and thanks for sharing.

I really hate to think that something at the Vet somehow contributed to the health issues a lot of former Phillies players and coaches have had later in life.