Jim Fregosi, a six-time All-Star shortstop who spent 53 years in professional baseball as a player, manager and scout, died early Friday morning, six days after suffering multiple strokes during a Major League Baseball alumni cruise.
At Fregosi's bedside when he passed away were his wife, Joni; daughters Nikki, Lexy and Jennifer; and sons Robert and Jim. Fregosi had been taken off life-support systems slightly more than 12 hours earlier. He was airlifted from the Cayman Islands to Miami on Wednesday night after doctors had stabilized his condition.
Known for his strong scouting skills, Fregosi was a special assistant to the general manager for the Braves the past 13 seasons. Prior to that, he managed four teams -- the Angels, White Sox, Phillies and Blue Jays -- and was a player for 18 seasons, including 11 with the Angels. He also worked for the Cardinals and Giants during his long career.
"There is not a baseball organization at work today that doesn't reflect on what's it going to be like here in Spring Training or during the season when we don't see Jimmy sitting in the press room or on the bench or being around a batting cage with his arms folded across his chest telling stories and regaling everybody about the wonders of baseball and the joy of baseball and how much he loved it," Braves president John Schuerholz said. "We're going to miss that.
"This guy had a personality and a love for the game of baseball and a love for what he did in life and the people in his life that he loved and admired. He filled the room. That is the best way I can describe this man. He's a dear friend of mine. It's a tough loss."
Originally signed by the Red Sox in 1960, Fregosi broke into the Major Leagues in September 1961, at age 19, nine months after the Angels had taken him in the Expansion Draft. He became the Angels' starting shortstop in 1963 and was an American League All-Star the following season and then in five straight seasons from 1966-70. He won a Gold Glove in 1967 and led the league in triples in 1968 with 13.
Fregosi batted .268 with 115 home runs and 546 RBIs in 1,429 games for the Los Angeles/California Angels. Part of one of the game's best double-play combinations with three-time Gold Glove second baseman Bobby Knoop, Fregosi was the franchise's first star and was selected the No. 1 player in team history in a fan vote held in conjunction with baseball's 100th anniversary in 1969. His uniform No. 11 was retired in 1998.
Fregosi often said his biggest claim to fame actually was that he was on the wrong end of one of the most famous trades in baseball history -- the one in December 1971 that sent him to the Mets for a group of players that included a hard-throwing young pitcher named Nolan Ryan. The Mets made Fregosi a third baseman, and his production fell, while Ryan, who had won only 29 games in his first four seasons, played another 22 seasons and finished with 5,714 strikeouts -- the all-time career record -- and 324 wins.
Fregosi, who finished his managerial career with the Blue Jays in 1999-2000, was an all-star shortstop and quarterback at Serra High School in San Mateo, Calif., and he set the California Interscholastic Federation broad jump record. His high school teammates included former big league third baseman Tim Cullen and Gary Hughes, currently a special assistant for the Red Sox who has also been the scouting director for the Marlins and Montreal Expos.
Jim Fregosi Jr., who played in the Cardinals' Minor League system and has been a longtime scout, is currently a special assistant to Royals GM Dayton Moore.
---- Source: MLB.com