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Baseball’s Jim Fregosi dies at 71 after apparent stroke

Former major league manager and All-Star Jim Fregosi died early Friday after suffering an apparent stroke while on a cruise for baseball fans. He was 71.

Fregosi, who was living in Tarpon Springs, became ill Tuesday as the MSC Divina was headed from Grand Cayman to Mexico. The ship returned to Grand Cayman and Fregosi was later taken to a Miami hospital, a cruise line spokeswoman said. He was taken off life support Thursday.

His oldest son, Jim Sr., told MLB.com that his father died at 2:36 a.m. Friday with his family at his bedside.

Fregosi managed the Philadelphia Phillies to the 1993 National League pennant. News of his condition spread Thursday at Bright House Field in Clearwater, where the Phillies had begun reporting for spring training.

“Everyone in the Phillies organization is deeply saddened about the news of Jim’s passing,” Phillies President David Montgomery said in a statement. “We, and so many others in the game, have lost a dear friend. He’ll be remembered for his vibrant personality, wisdom and love of the game. Our deepest sympathy is extended to his widow, Joni, daughters Nikki, Lexy and Jennifer and sons Robert and Jim.”

Fregosi ended more than 50 years in baseball as a special assistant to Braves general manager Frank Wren.

“Jim played a vital role in our club over the last 13 years,” Wren said. “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.”

Fregosi also managed the 1979 California Angels to their first American League Western Division title. He also managed the Chicago White Sox and Toronto Blue Jays.

Fregosi was an infielder in the majors from 1961 to 1978, hitting .265 with 151 homers and 706 RBIs. His best seasons came with the Angels, where he was six-time All-Star as a shortstop.

The Angels, who retired Fregosi’s No. 11 in 1988, said in a statement Fregosi was a personal favorite of former owner Gene Autry.

“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 New York Mets that sent Nolan Ryan to California.

Fregosi later played for the Texas Rangers and Pittsburgh Pirates. He began his managing career at 36 with the Angels in April 1978 — two days after his final game as a player with the Pirates.

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.

Fregosi played in the majors from 1961 to 1978. His best seasons came with the Angels, where he was six-time All-Star.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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