Saturday, June 13, 2009

#115 -- Jim Fregosi

Jim's gone through a lot of different phases of his career. He was one of the first California Angel wonderboys. Starting in 1972 his career went south and he became more of a utility guy and wandered around the league. Then he was a manager for several years. Now he's more of the wise old sage.

However, this makes two guys in a row who're not known for their All-Star years or other accomplishments. Instead, they're known for a single failure in their career. In Fregosi's case, it wasn't even his fault. The Mets chose to give up Nolan Ryan to pick up Fregosi to be their third baseman. In fact, as I mentioned in Gary Gentry's post, the Angels would have been fine with either Ryan or Gentry, but I think the Mets were reluctant to part with Gentry because he was more of a World Series hero. However, in some respects, this Ryan-for-Fregosi trade would have been the equivalent of the Braves trading Edgar Renteria a couple of years ago to the Orioles for Daniel Cabrera. You've got a good-hitting veteran shortstop for a talented, hard-throwing, yet erratic pitcher. Ryan could just have well turned out like Daniel Cabrera has (so far).

The Angels brought up Fregosi as a fresh-faced 19 year old in their expansion year of 1961. By August 1962 he was their starting shortstop. He was a 6-time All-Star through 1970 and was hitting for some pop. It was unusual for a shortstop to be hitting 15-20 homers a year in the 60's, but Jim was good for that. In 1971 he tailed off, largely because of a tumor that was found on his foot. He was traded to the Mets and struggled with a broken thumb in 1972. By mid-1973, the Mets had all they could take and they sold Fregosi to the Rangers. While it was kind of an insult to be sold, it might have been more of an insult to Fregosi to have been traded for any of the sack of you know what the Rangers had (Jeff Burroughs excluded).

He settled in as a backup with the Rangers into 1977 and then finished his career in Pittsburgh in 1978. He never really recaptured what he had with the Angels in the 60's, but he finished his playing career on his own terms. He retired in May to take the job managing Nolan Ryan and the Angels. He led the Angels to their first playoff appearance in 1979. He also managed the White Sox, Phillies and Blue Jays. Most remember him with the Phillies in the 1993 World Series, probably wondering why he had to put Mitch Williams out there.

1972 Feature
I've learned that when I put these dates into Google, I can get a lot of stuff. In addition to posting the Game of the Day from Major League Baseball, I can be posting highlights from transcripts of the White House tapes (tune in on card #119 for something on that), the concert tour of Led Zeppelin and Elvis Presley, and there's even a website that shows wrestling results for Superstar Billy Graham (the man who inspired Hulk Hogan's biceps and Jesse Ventura's wardrobe). However, I'm letting you off the hook (unless I see something interesting with the King or the Superstar).

The MLB Extra Innings package would have been worth having on June 13, 1972. The Angels overcame 5 errors to beat the Indians 3-2 in 11 innings. Wilbur Wood of the White Sox and Pete Broberg of the Rangers each threw 3-hit shutouts. The Braves had another come from behind victory over the Mets, 6-5 in 10 innings, tying the game with 3 in the 8th.

My Game of the Day will be in Fenway, where the Red Sox drew all of 12,000 fans against the Royals on a Tuesday night. You can't get into Fenway now unless you know someone that knows someone that knows someone (which is how my wife and I got to see a game in May 2006). Marty Pattin had the Royals shut down and, after getting help from Bill Lee to escape a jam in the 8th, the Red Sox were leading 2-0. In the top of the 9th, rookie Rick Miller is a defensive replacement for Yaz in left field, suggesting the Sox were about to salt one away.

However, Freddie Patek got a 2-run double off Lee and Amos Otis followed with a 2-run single off Bobby Bolin to give the Royals a 4-2 lead. The Royals could have tried to add to that, but Otis was made the 3rd out at 3rd base, trying to go from 1st to 3rd on a single to left by pitcher Bruce Dal Canton. Richie Scheinblum was coming up next and he was a .300 hitter.

In the 9th a Freddie Patek error and a Carlton Fisk double put the tying runners in scoring position. But Tom Burgmeier came in and got pinch-hitter Phil Gagliano and Tommy Harper out to end the game. Pretty tight finish. The Royals and Red Sox were both 5 games under .500 and floundering, but the Red Sox would get things going later on.

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