Jim Fregosi passed away today after suffering a stroke earlier this week while participating in a Major League Alumni cruise.
Fregosi was a great player for the Los Angeles/California Angels in the 1960s and later went on to manage them. But east coast fans are more likely to remember him for one of two things.
On December 10th, 1971, the New York Mets sent a pitcher named Nolan Ryan and three other minor leaguers to the Angels in a trade to acquire Fregosi. Although he had been an All-Star shortstop, the Mets got Fregosi with the idea that he could be their answer at third base, and it did not work out well. Ryan became a star, winning 138 games and pitching four no-hitters for the Angels before departing as a free agent at the end of the 1979 season.
Phillies fans will remember Fregosi as the manager who presided over the “worst-to-first” turnaround of the 1993 National League championship team.
“Jim Fregosi was not only one of the most respected men in baseball, he was a great man,” Lenny Dykstra told CSNPhilly.com. “He was a player’s manager. He had that special gift as a manager that made you want to get to the field and play your ass off for him. Jim Fregosi was the reason that 1993 was one of the most exciting years in Philadelphia sports history.”
Fregosi had been good about signing autographs for collectors who wrote to him and asked. I got my 1973 Topps baseball card signed in 2007.
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10 thoughts on “Autograph of the week: Jim Fregosi”
I heard several goof things about Fregosi from other Phillies fans. Unfortunately I never got to meet him. Too bad he’s one the short end of the worst deal in baseball history second only to Babe Ruth going to the Yankees.
May he rest in peace.
The Nolan Ryan trade turned out to be a steal for the Angels, but I don’t know that I’d label it the second worst in baseball history. Some other candidates:
Jan. 27, 1982 – The Philadelphia Phillies trade Larry Bowa and prospect Ryne Sandberg to the Chicago Cubs for Ivan DeJesus.
July 21, 1988 – The New York Yankees trade prospect Jay Buhner to the Seattle Mariners for
Steve BalboniKen Phelps.
May 25, 1989 – The Montreal Expos trade Randy Johnson, Gene Harris and Brian Holman to the Seattle Mariners for Mark Langston and Mike Campbell.
Aug. 30, 1990 – The Boston Red Sox trade minor leaguer Jeff Bagwell to the Houston Astros for Larry Anderson.
Jan. 10, 1991 – The Baltimore Orioles trade prospects Curt Schilling, Steve Finley and Pete Harnisch to the Houston Astros for Glenn Davis.
April 2, 1992 – The Houston Astros trade Curt Schilling to the Philadelphia Phillies for Jason Grimsley.
It might be fun to try to figure out the worst trade in team history for each franchise. Does anybody have more examples that they’d like to share?
How about Lenny Dykstra from New York to the Phillies for Juan Samuel?
Neil Allen from the Mets to the Cards for Keith Hernandez.
Frank Robinson from the Reds to the Orioles for Milt Pappas, who only lasted about 2 1/2 years in Cinci.
Cardinals trade Steve Carlton to the Phillies for Rick Wise.
Tigers trade pitching prospect John Smoltz to the Braves for Doyle Alexander.
BTW, Ruth wasn’t traded to the Yankees. He was sold to them. No other players changed hands.
Never said Ruth was traded for players. Ruth to the Yankees was the worst player transaction in sports history as far as I’m concerned. The worst trade of players to me is Ryan for Fregosi. Paul mentions some other bad deals, I think the Sandberg and Johnson deals merit consideration due to the fact one is in the HOF and the other will be in 2015. Bagwell and Schilling (twice) were bad too; however, they were not first ballot HOF. It remains to be seen if they will get in.
Jay Buhner was traded for Ken Phelps in 1988. Yankees got Balboni prior to the 1989 season.
I don’t know why I confused those two trades, especially since I had Baseball-Reference.com open to get the date. (FWIW, the Yankees “won” the Steve Balboni trade with the Mariners – Seattle got minor league pitcher Dana Ridenour, who never appeared in a major league game.)
I think you do have to give consideration to what the deal looked like at the time–not just in retrospect. When you trade a prospect for a major league regular, you know that there’s a chance the prospect could turn into something great. But, if you’re driving for the pennant, that prospect ain’t helping you now. Langston was pretty desirable when the Expos got him. And I tend to think the problem there was the Expos–not entirely Langston. Its conceivable Randy Johnson would never have been much of anything had he stayed in Montreal. OTOH, I absolutely don’t get the example of Buhner for Balboni; they both sucked.
I’m one of the few but, remembering how wild Ryan was at the time, how stocked with pitching we were, how badly we needed a third baseman, and the rep of Fregosi…I just can’t see that as the worst trade in Mets history. To me, the worst trade in Mets history is, was, and always shall be Seaver for Flynn, Henderson, Norman and Zachary. We traded a known Hall of Famer and perenial All-Star–the staff ace–for a bucket of bolts. Stupid, stupid, stupid.
Stubby, I’m going to assume you’ve forgotten about Jay Buhner’s career in Seattle. He played there for 14 seasons, hit 307 home runs, and had three straight seasons of 40 or more home runs and 100 or more RBI in the mid-1990s.
Mark Langston actually did have a good season for the Montreal Expos in 1989, but the team finished at .500, in 4th place, 12 games behind the Chicago Cubs. Langston then left as a free agent at the end of the year. Maybe I’m missing something, but it seems like their version of the Scott Kazmir trade.
I never forgot the Buhner trade. The only way he gets to the HOF is if he buys a ticket like everyone else. I’d put this trade in the top 5 of bad Yankee deals. Drabek for Rhoden comes to mind along with Sykes for McGee. Henderson back to Oakland in 1989 was another doozie.
Carlton for Wise was pretty bad too.
I’m sticking to it. Worst player trade is Ryan for Fregosi.
Worst player transaction- Ruth to the Yankees
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