When I learned of Jim Fregosi’s passing on February 14, an image immediately popped into my mind.
I believe it’s from the 2000 season; a mid-season game between the Jays and Rays. The Jays won the match on a walk-off homerun.
The next day, the Toronto Star ran a photo of Fregosi reacting to the game-winning blast. His arms were victoriously extended into the air as he was running out of the dugout. Mouth was wide open.
It was quite the sight.
Here was a grown man in his late 50s; a Major League Baseball manager no less. And yet, he looked like a child on Christmas Day receiving the gift he always wanted.
It was a beautiful image, capturing the essence of baseball.
For one brief moment, the roles disappeared and were replaced by pure emotion. Fregosi was supposed to be the manager and leader; the man who sets an example. But he dropped all that and chose to be full of jubilation and ecstasy.
The image filed itself in my memory bank because it was something a Blue Jay manager would never do.
Think of all the managers from Cito Gaston on. They usually sat/sit on the bench, slightly motionless. There’s a stoic look on their faces, maybe polite applause when things are going right. It’s not a bad thing, just a pattern. But in my mind, that wasn’t Jim Fregosi. He wasn’t a typical Blue Jay manager.
It’s a shame his tenure as Jays manager lasted just two seasons. Looking back, it feels like things could’ve been different. Of course, that’s just hindsight.
Jim Fregosi will be remembered for his extensive work. Though I never met the man, he struck me as the type of person that is remembered for many individual reasons.
For me, it’s the picture.
PS: I looked everywhere for that picture. Searched high and low. Couldn’t find it. I know it’s out there…