Baseball lifer Jim Fregosi dies at 71

Updated: February 14, 2014, 6:23 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

Former major league manager Jim Fregosi, who spent 53 seasons in professional baseball, died early Friday from complications after suffering multiple strokes, the Atlanta Braves said. He was 71.

Jim Fregosi Jr., his oldest son, told MLB.com his father died at 2:36 a.m. and "went in peace with no pain." Fregosi had fallen ill earlier this week while on a Major League Baseball alumni cruise in the Cayman Islands.

[+] EnlargeJim Fregosi
Jonathan Daniel/Allsport/Getty ImagesJim Fregosi led the 1993 Phillies to the NL pennant before falling to Toronto in six games in the World Series. He also managed the White Sox, Angels and Blue Jays after an 18-year playing career.

Fregosi managed 15 years in the majors with the Angels, White Sox, Phillies and Blue Jays, compiling a 1,028-1,094 record.

His 1993 Phillies produced a 97-65 record and won the National League pennant, and he guided the 1979 Angels to the AL West title with an 88-74 season.

"Everyone in the Phillies organization is deeply saddened about the news of Jim's passing. We, and so many others in the game, have lost a dear friend," Phillies president David Montgomery said in a statement. "He'll be remembered for his vibrant personality, wisdom and love of the game."

The six-time All-Star shortstop made his major league debut at 19 for the Angels. He played 18 seasons for the Angels, Mets, Rangers and Pirates. For his career, he had a .265 batting average with 151 home runs and 706 RBIs.

The Angels, who retired Fregosi's No. 11 in 1988, said in a statement that he was a personal favorite of late owner Gene Autry. Fregosi made his major league managerial debut for the Angels at age 36.

"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," the Angels said.

"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."

Fregosi left the Angels in a 1971 trade with the Mets that sent Nolan Ryan to California.

Fregosi had been with the Braves for the past 13 seasons, his latest role being special assistant to general manager Frank Wren. He also was a scout during his time in baseball.

"We have lost a dear friend and a wonderful baseball man," Braves president John Schuerholz said Thursday in a statement. "The Atlanta Braves will truly miss Jim and we send our deepest condolences to his wife, Joni, his entire family and all of his many friends throughout baseball."

Fregosi was removed from life support at a Miami hospital on Thursday, a family spokesman told MLB.com. 

"I always knew when I walked into the ballpark and saw Jim sitting there, I was going to learn something about baseball and have lots of laughs the next three to four days," White Sox special assistant Dave Yoakum said Friday.

"Fishing with him, Lee Elia, Charlie Manuel and Dom Chiti are memories I will cherish for the rest my life. I'm going to miss Jim tremendously."

James Louis Fregosi was born in 1942 in San Francisco and starred in baseball, football basketball and track and field at Serra High School. He signed with the Boston Red Sox out of high school and went to the Angels in the 1960 expansion draft.

ESPN.com's Jayson Stark, ESPNNewYork.com's Adam Rubin and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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