The Angels will finally honor one of their all-time greats on Tuesday, nearly six full months after his passing. Jim Fregosi, 71, died on Valentine’s Day of this year from complications following a stroke, bringing his 50+ years in Major League Baseball to a sudden and tragic end.
A member of the inaugural 1961 Angels, Fregosi is one of just three former Halos players to have his number (#11) retired by the team, and was the first manager to lead the club into the postseason, in 1979. Despite spending only 10 seasons in an Angels uniform, he remains the franchise WAR leader (45.9) among position players, more than five wins ahead of the next guy — Tim Salmon, at 40.5 WAR. He was elected into the team Hall of Fame in 1989, and had his number retired in 1998.
While the Phillies and Braves, for whom Fregosi worked after his playing and managing tenures with the Halos came to a close, honored the six-time All-Star at a Spring Training game in Florida three weeks after his death, the Angels were oddly silent on the matter. Other than this single paragraph written within hours of Fregosi’s death, the organization made no official moves toward paying tribute to its first real star. Until now.
A pre-game ceremony to honor Fregosi on Tuesday will include a video tribute, an on-field presentation to members of his family, and a first pitch thrown by his oldest son, Jim Jr. Additionally, both the Angels and Phillies will wear a Fregosi patch on their uniform sleeves, and the #11 will be stenciled into the outfield grass.
Many fans have widely expressed their disdain for how the front office has more or less ignored Fregosi this season, so while Tuesday’s tribute will likely be very nice, the ceremony is unlikely to bring an end to those feelings of contempt. Scheduling a tribute to someone half a year after they’ve gone seriously smacks of damage control, especially when said ceremony isn’t announced until the week before. There is absolutely no reason the team couldn’t have worn a memorial patch the entire season, or, at the very least, made an announcement regarding his tribute at the start of the year.
There is no word on whether the Halos plan to wear the memorial patch for the remainder of the season, but I sincerely hope they do. Fregosi meant a hell of a lot to the organization for more than a decade, so making an effort to commemorate that, even if only for a month and a half, is pretty much the least the club can do.