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Jim Frey


Jim Frey

This article is about the Major League Baseball manager. For the author of A Million Little Pieces, see James Frey. For other people of this name, see James Frey (disambiguation).
Jim Frey
Born: (1931-05-26) May 26, 1931 (age 83)
Cleveland, Ohio
Bats: Left Throws: Left

As Manager

James Gottfried Frey (born May 26, 1931 in Cleveland, Ohio) is a former manager and coach in Major League Baseball. He led the Kansas City Royals to their first American League championship in 1980, in his first year with the team. In the World Series, they lost to the Philadelphia Phillies, who won their first World Series championship.

Early career

Frey, a lifelong friend of Don Zimmer (they were teammates at Western Hills High School in Cincinnati, Ohio), never reached the major leagues as a player. A left-handed-batting and -throwing outfielder, he spent much of his career in the farm systems of the Boston/Milwaukee Braves and the St. Louis Cardinals, then joined the Baltimore Orioles as a scout and minor league manager. He was promoted to the Orioles' coaching staff under Earl Weaver in 1970, and coached on three American League pennant winners and one World Series champion through 1979 before his hiring by the Royals.

The Royals

Frey led the Royals to a 97-65 mark and the American League West Division title in 1980; then, in the 1980 American League Championship Series, the Royals defeated their long-time postseason nemesis, the New York Yankees in three straight games to capture the AL title. (The Yanks had defeated Whitey Herzog's Royals for three consecutive seasons (1976–78) in the ALCS). But Frey's Royals dropped the 1980 series in six games. The following year was marked by the 1981 baseball strike and the Royals never got untracked. They had lost 40 of their first 70 games when Frey was replaced by Dick Howser on August 31. Ironically, Howser had managed the Yankees the year before (and was fired after the Royals swept them out of the playoffs) and, because of the split-season format in use because of the strike, the Royals were actually in first place (with a 10-10 record) in the second-half AL West standings at the time of Frey's dismissal.

The Cubs

Frey then returned to the coaching ranks with the New York Mets for 1982-83. Frey was hired by the Chicago Cubs for the 1984 season, and again struck paydirt as the Cubs won the division title, earning their first post-season appearance since 1945. During the clubhouse celebration following the division-clinching in Pittsburgh, Frey declared, "The monkey's off our back!"

The Cubs won the first two games against the San Diego Padres in the National League Championship Series at Wrigley Field, before they went to San Diego needing to win just one of the next three games. The Cubs lost the next three games, and many critics blamed Frey for mishandling the pitching staff. Still, the 1984 Cubs are revered among Cubs fans.

After a trying 1985 season in which the entire five-man starting rotation simultaneously spent time on the disabled list, the Cubs sputtered in 1986. Frey was fired two months into the season and replaced by John Vukovich. The next year, Frey surfaced as a color commentator on the Cubs' WGN Radio broadcasts.

In December 1987, the Tribune Co. hired Frey to replace his old boss, general manager Dallas Green, who had resigned two months earlier. Frey hired his lifelong friend, Zimmer, to manage the team, and immediately made his presence felt. Within weeks of his hire, he dealt relief pitcher Lee Smith to Boston for journeyman Al Nipper and Calvin Schiraldi, who was best known for playing a part in the Red Sox' 1986 World Series collapse. Frey also traded the popular Keith Moreland to San Diego for closer Goose Gossage, who had played a big part on the San Diego team that eliminated the Cubs four years earlier. Neither move worked, and the Cubs were without a closer.

So Frey made a bold move in the winter of 1988, trading budding star Rafael Palmeiro and young pitcher Jamie Moyer to the Texas Rangers for a number of players, including Mitch Williams. The trade paid off for the Cubs in 1989 as Williams saved 36 games, the Cubs won a division title and Moyer and Palmeiro struggled in Texas. But Williams had just one more forgettable year for the Cubs before being traded to Philadelphia in 1991, and Palmeiro and Moyer went on to have productive careers.

After a disappointing 1990 season, Frey was active on the free agent market, acquiring former Toronto Blue Jay and 1987 American League MVP George Bell, former Cincinnati Reds starting pitcher Danny Jackson and former Houston Astros closer Dave Smith. Jackson and Smith flopped in their roles in 1991, and Zimmer was fired - apparently on orders from Tribune Co. CEO Donald Grenesko in May 1991. Jim Essian, a former journeyman catcher and Iowa Cubs manager, replaced Zimmer for the remainder of the season. Frey was reassigned within the organization after the 1991 season, replaced by former Chicago White Sox general manager Larry Himes. He is currently Vice Chairman of the Somerset Patriots.

External links

  • Career statistics and player information from Baseball-Reference (Minors)
  • - career managing record
Preceded by
Charlie Lau
Baltimore Orioles Hitting Coach
Succeeded by
Frank Robinson
Preceded by
Charlie Lau
Baltimore Orioles Bullpen Coach
Succeeded by
Cal Ripken Sr.
Preceded by
George Staller
Baltimore Orioles First Base Coach
Succeeded by
Frank Robinson
Preceded by
Dallas Green
Chicago Cubs General Manager
Succeeded by
Larry Himes
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