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Friday, February 14, 2014

Newhan: Remembering an All-Star Friend

Good stuff from Ross Newhan on Jim Fregosi…

I met Jim Fregosi in that first Palm Springs camp in the first year of the American League’s newly created Los Angeles Angels.

He was 19, a shortstop selected out of the Boston Red Sox organization in baseball’s first ever expansion draft. I was 24, on my first beat assignment for the Long Beach Independent, Press Telegram, and in over my head—unlike Fregosi, who would make his big league debut in September and become the Angels fulltime shortstop in 1963 at 21.

No surprise to Manager Bill Rigney, who would brag about him from the first day of that first spring, often telling the story of how longtime San Francisco Giants’ scout and executive Tom (Clancy) Sheehan had come to him soon after that draft and scoffed, “Hell, Rig, you can find a player like him under every rock in Arizona.”

Rig knew differently, of course, and so did and does most every scout who keeps turning over rocks in Arizona and elsewhere, looking for players of Fregosi’s young skills and, if they look hard enough, perhaps, the inate traits that would quickly enable him to become a leader on and off the field, the full blown personality that was on display for 54 years as player, manager, scout.

...And the last time I saw Jim was in the Anaheim press box in 2012. I was working on a freelance story and he was on an assignment for the Braves.

We took a minute before the game to have a cup of coffee together, and he said, wistfully almost for a man whose voice usually boomed and whose passion was as large, “I don’t think anyone will have as much fun as we did in those early years. It was just another time, and I’m glad I had a chance to experience it.”

Me, too. RIP, Jim Fregosi.

Repoz Posted: February 14, 2014 at 12:46 PM | 1 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: angels, history

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   1. Moeball Posted: February 14, 2014 at 10:24 PM (#4657212)
My favorite Angels player when I was a kid and I was thrilled to see him in person in the AS Game in 1967 when Anaheim Stadium hosted. (Thanks, Dad, for taking me!)

Fregosi was always terribly underrated during his prime and is now gone too damned soon.

This really sucks. RIP.

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