Big League Stew

Jim Fregosi dies at 71

David Brown
Big League Stew

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(USA Today)

Trying to hold back tears, Philadelphia Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro spoke about his friend Jim Fregosi on Friday morning from spring training. Amaro was a player on the 1993 Phillies, who Fregosi managed to the World Series.

"He's a special person. He'll always be in our hearts."

Fregosi, 71, died in Miami on Friday after having a series of strokes starting Wednesday while sailing a Major League Baseball alumni cruise. He had been airlifted from a hospital in the Cayman Islands to the United States, where he was taken off life support Thursday. Some of Fregosi's family, reportedly, were with him when he died.

A six-time All-Star as a player with the Los Angeles Angels in the 1960s, Fregosi also won 1,028 games as a major league manager with the Angels, Phillies, Chicago White Sox and Toronto Blue Jays. Fregosi was a scout with the Atlanta Braves in recent seasons. And he seemed to be a universally appreciated figure.

Fregosi transitioned from player to Angels manager in 1978 — at age 36 — after getting released by the Pirates mid-season. The Angels won the AL West title, the franchise's first postseason success, in 1979. His greatest managing success came running the colorful '93 Phillies — the John Kruk, Len Dykstra, Darren Daulton guys. That must have been a fun challenge.

Managers come and go — Fregosi was no different there — but he was a baseball lifer. He scouted for the Giants in the '90s and, after a turn managing the Jays, returned to scouting for the rest of his life.

From the Chicago Tribune:

In the spring of 1999, immediately after Fregosi left to manage the Blue Jays, a dejected Giants general manager Brian Sabean told beat writers how he learned the importance of scouting your own players from Fregosi, whose input as a scout was instrumental in the Giants winning their first playoff berth in eight years in 1997.

Fregosi's pursuit of information as a scout was relentless.

The White Sox held him in high regard despite three last-place seasons after taking over for Tony La Russa as the franchise embarked on a rebuilding program through the draft.

Adam Rubin of ESPN first reported the news that Fregosi was ill. Since this past Saturday, Fregosi had been cruising the Caribbean with other former major leaguers Rudy May, Stan Bahnsen, Tony Taylor and Amos Otis. It's a similar concept to, albeit a different boat than, the cruise Earl Weaver was on 13 months ago when he suffered a heart attack and died.

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(AP)

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David Brown edits Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at rdbrown@yahoo-inc.com or follow him on Twitter!

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