Jim Fregosi, who managed the Toronto Blue Jays in the 1999 and 2000 seasons, died early Friday morning, six days after suffering multiple strokes during a cruise for baseball fans.
The 71-year-old became ill Tuesday as the cruise headed from Grand Cayman to Mexico. The ship returned to Grand Cayman and Fregosi later was transported to a Florida hospital once doctors stabilized his condition.
“He passed away at 2.36 a.m. [ET],” according to Fregosi’s oldest son, Jim Fregosi Jr. “Went in peace with no pain.”
At Fregosi's bedside when he passed were his wife Joni, daughters Nikki, Lexy and Jennifer along with his other son Robert.
'He was such a positive, knowledgeable resource. He lit up a room and had just great relationships throughout the game.'- Braves general manager Frank Wren
Fregosi, who spent the past 13 seasons as a special assistant to Atlanta Braves general manager Frank Wren, compiled a win-loss record of 167-157 in Toronto.
"Jim played a vital role in our club over the last 13 years," Wren said Friday. "As a senior adviser he was someone you could always pick up the phone and get a feel for the players in the game. He covered all 30 teams for us and was such a positive, knowledgeable resource. He lit up a room and had just great relationships throughout the game.
"When I first became GM, one of the things that made the transition so easy was having Jim as close as a phone call for advice and help or encouragement."
He also managed the Philadelphia Phillies to the 1993 National League pennant and 1979 California Angels to their first American League West title.
'A dear friend'
Phillies president David Montgomery said the team and others in baseball "lost a dear friend."
"He'll be remembered for his vibrant personality, wisdom and love of the game," Montgomery said in a statement. "Our deepest sympathy is extended to his widow, Joni, daughters Nikki, Lexy and Jennifer and sons Robert and Jim."
Fregosi was selected 35th overall by the Angels in the 1960 expansion draft. He went to play 18 seasons in the majors as an infielder for California, Texas, Pittsburgh and New York Mets.
A six-time all-star, Fregosi posted a career .265 batting average, 151 home runs, 706 runs batted in and .736 on-base-plus slugging percentage.
The Angels, who retired Fregosi's No. 11 in 1988, said in a statement Fregosi was a personal favourite of former owner Gene Autry.
'His personality was infectious, his love of the game legendary, and his knowledge endless.'- Angels organization
"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."
He said his biggest claim to fame was being the key player in the package the Angels traded to the Mets for a group of players that included hard-throwing pitcher Nolan Ryan.
Fregosi ended his playing career with the Pirates in 1978 and was hired the following day to manage in California.
In 15 seasons as a manager, he posted a 1,028-1,094 record.
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.