Jim Fregosi: 1942-2014
See the update on Page 2 on Jim Fregosi passing away Friday morning with his family by his side and a touching tribute from the Angels.
ORIGINAL POST, FEB. 13, 8:14 A.M.: Jim Fregosi, the first Angels baseball star and a one-time manager of the Anaheim team, has reportedly been taken off life support after suffering a series of strokes.
The 71-year-old, who was being treated in a Miami hospital, suffered the strokes while on a cruise with other former Major League Baseball stars in the Cayman Islands last weekend.
A six-time All-Star at shortstop for the Angels, Fregosi was a star baseball and football player at all-Catholic Serra High School in San Mateo and also set a record in the long jump that was later broken by Lynn Swann.
Fregosi received many college football scholarship offers but instead signed as a free agent with the Boston Red Sox before the 1960 season. The new Los Angeles Angels then selected Fregosi in that December's expansion draft.
He spent 11 seasons with the Halos, with his best season coming in 1967, when he hit .290 and won his only Gold Glove. After the 1971 season, Fregosi was traded to the New York Mets for four players, including future Hall of Famer Nolan Ryan. But Fregosi spent only a year and a half with the Mets before moving on to the Texas Rangers and then the Pittsburgh Pirates.
The Pirates released him in 1978 because, the Society of American Baseball Research claims, Angels owner Gene Autry asked the team to so Fregosi could manage the Angels. He spent four years as the Halos' skipper and went on to manage the Chicago White Sox, Philadelphia Phillies and Toronto Blue Jays. He led the Phillies to the World Series in 1993, but Toronto won in six games.
UPDATE. FEB. 14, 2:31 P.M.: Jim Fregosi passed away early this morning the way any of us would want to: with his family by his side. He was 71.
At his Miami hospital bedside when he passed on at 2:36 a.m. (ET) were his wife Joni, daughters Nikki, Lexy and Jennifer, and sons Robert and Jim.
Among those who fondly remembered Fregosi today was his Angels teammate Bobby Knoop, who as a second baseman joined Fregosi in being part of one of the game's best double-play combinations.
"His honesty, his loyalty, his passion for the game; he didn't have any tattoos, but he'd cover your back," Knoop said.
Those words are carried on the Angels' official Major League Baseball website, which features a cool tribute page to Fregosi. Besides memorable photos and a comprehensive obituary, there are links to video tributes from his friends and teammates in baseball. The Phillies, who won the National League pennant under manager Fregosi in 1993, have also posted an online tribute.
"The Angels organization joins the rest of the Major League Baseball community in mourning the loss today of Jim Fregosi," say the Angels in a statement. "His contributions and passion for the Angels, both as a player and manager, have served as the standard for others within our organization through the years. Jim was one of Mr. Autry's all-time favorite players, and a man who remained in the hearts and memories of long-time Angel fans.
"Jim's induction into the Angels Hall of Fame and the retiring of his uniform No. 11 were among the prouder moments in club history. His personality was infectious, his love of the game legendary, and his knowledge endless. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his wife, Joni, and members of the Fregosi family."
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you'll never miss OC Weekly's biggest stories. Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts