Jim Fregosi, who baseball fans in Louisville will remember from his time managing the Redbirds, passed away early Friday morning after suffering multiple strokes earlier this week while on an MLB alumni cruise. He was 71 years old.
Fregosi was an exceptionally accomplished shortstop before beginning his managing career. The six-time All-Star was selected 35th overall by the Angels in the 1960 expansion draft and went on to play 13 Major League seasons with the Angels, Mets, Rangers and Pirates. His number 11 was retired by the Angels in 1998.
Upon finishing his playing career in Pittsburgh, he was hired as the manager of the Angels and led the team to its first postseason in franchise history after winning the 1979 American League West title. He managed Hall of Fame pitcher Nolan Ryan for his last two years with the Angels after being part of the trade that brought the hurler to California as a player in 1971.
Following his stint in California, Fregosi joined the St. Louis Cardinals organization in 1983, where he won Manager of the Year award in the American Association for managing the Louisville Redbirds to the top of the East Division. He then led the 1984 Redbirds to the American Association Championship after a 79-76 regular season. He would be named Co-Manager of the Year in 1985 as the Redbirds claimed their second straight American Association title. Fregosi later left the Cardinals organization to manage the White Sox during the 1986 season. He compiled a 263-232 record with the Redbirds and is the only manager to claim two league titles in Louisville franchise history.
Fregosi would manage in Chicago for two years before being released. In 1991, he joined the Philadelphia Phillies as manager and led them to the World Series in 1993, where the team lost to the defending champion Toronto Blue Jays in six games.
Fregosi last managed for Toronto in 2000. He also served as a scout for part of his career and most recently as a special assistant to the GM with the Atlanta Braves. In all, he spent 53 years in professional baseball.