Advertisement

The California Angels fired manager Jim Fregosi Thursday and...

By RICH TOSCHES, UPI Sports Writer

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- The California Angels fired manager Jim Fregosi Thursday and named veteran manager Gene Mauch to replace him.

Fregosi's firing almost occurred two weeks ago when the talent-laden Angels slumped badly. But team owner Gene Autry and vice-president Buzzie Bavasi met and decided to give the 39-year-old Fregosi, who was hired June 1, 1978, one more chance to turn the team around.

Advertisement

The Angels then went on a mild winning streak against Milwaukee, Detroit, Cleveland and Baltimore. But the Angels returned to Anaheim Stadium last Friday night and were humiliated in three game by the Chicago White Sox and then lost two of three to the lowly Toronto Blue Jays, including Wednesday night's 3-2 setback.

The Angels were 22-25 after that loss, 7 games behind the front-running Oakland A's in the American League West.

After winning their first title in 19 years by capturing the division in 1979, the Angels collapsed in 1980, finishing 31 games behind Kansas City. That season, with the(team beset by injuries, Fregosi was unable to take the club's high-priced talent and produce a winner. The club was especially poor at home with a 16-38 record and many of the hometown fans blamed Fregosi for the club's oft-times lethargic play.

Advertisement

As a player, Fregosi spent 10 of his 18 big league seasons with the Angels and was named the club's Most Valuable Player three times and an AL All-Star on six occasions.

Fregosi was a favorite of Autry even in the days when he played shortstop for the Angels from 1966-1971. But Autry is an impulsive man and has grown impatient with the Angels' failures, particularly after having shelled out huge sums to acquire and satisfy such players as Rod Carew, Don Baylor and,more recently, Fred Lynn and Rick Burleson.

'I'm thankful for the opportunity that Gene and Buzzie gave me to manage over the last three years,' Fregosi said. 'I just wish the team had played better. I think they're an outstanding group of men and I wish them all the best of luck the rest of the season.

'And I wish the Angels organization and Gene Autry nothing but the best.'

Autry appeared saddened by the decision he had to make.

'Jimmy has been a close personal friend of mine for many years,' Autry said. 'However, we have to think of the best interests of the club and for this reason we feel a change is necessary.'

Mauch, 55, joined the Angels staff at the start of the season as a team adviser. He becomes the ninth manager in the Angels 20-year history.

Advertisement

Mauch was a three-time selection as National League Manager of the Year (1962, 1964 and 1973) and the native of Kansas was in his 21st major league season as a manager when he resigned from the Minnesota Twins last August after 4 years as that team's manager. He previously managed the Philadelphia Phillies for nine years and the Montreal Expos for seven years.

Mauch's teams have won 1,524 games, the 10th highest total for a major league manager in baseball history.

Mauch began his playing career as a shortstop with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1943 and played for five other teams -- the Pirates, Cubs, Braves, Cardinals and Red Sox -- before retiring in 1957.

Fregosi's firing almost occurred two weeks ago when the talent-laden Angels slumped badly. But team owner Gene Autry and vice-president Buzzie Bavasi met and decided to give the 39-year-old Fregosi, who was hired June 1, 1978, one more chance to turn the team around.

The Angels then went on a mild winning streak against Milwaukee, Detroit, Cleveland and Baltimore. But the Angels returned to Anaheim Stadium last Friday night and were humiliated in three game by the Chicago White Sox and then lost two of three to the lowly Toronto Blue Jays, including Wednesday night's 3-2 setback.

Advertisement

The Angels were 22-25 after that loss, 7 games behind the front-running Oakland A's in the American League West.

After winning their first title in 19 years by capturing the division in 1979, the Angels collapsed in 1980, finishing 31 games behind Kansas City. That season, with the team beset by injuries, Fregosi was unable to take the club's high-priced talent and produce a winner. The club was especially poor at home with a 16-38 record and many of the hometown fans blamed Fregosi for the club's oft-times lethargic play.

As a player, Fregosi spent 10 of his 18 big league seasons with the Angels and was named the club's Most Valuable Player three times and an AL All-Star on six occasions.

Fregosi was a favorite of Autry even in the days when he played shortstop for the Angels from 1966-1971. But Autry is an impulsive man and has grown impatient with the Angels' failures, particularly after having shelled out huge sums to acquire and satisfy such players as Rod Carew, Don Baylor and,more recently, Fred Lynn and Rick Burleson.

'I'm thankful for the opportunity that Gene and Buzzie gave me to manage over the last three years,' Fregosi said. 'I just wish the team had played better. I think they're an outstanding group of men and I wish them all the best of luck the rest of the season.

Advertisement

'And I wish the Angels organization and Gene Autry nothing but the best.'

Autry appeared saddened by the decision he had to make.

'Jimmy has been a close personal friend of mine for many years,' Autry said. 'However, we have to think of the best interests of the club and for this reason we feel a change is necessary.'

Mauch, 55, joined the Angels staff at the start of the season as a team adviser. He becomes the ninth manager in the Angels 20-year history.

Mauch was a three-time selection as National League Manager of the Year (1962, 1964 and 1973) and the native of Kansas was in his 21st major league season as a manager when he resigned from the Minnesota Twins last August after 4 years as that team's manager. He previously managed the Philadelphia Phillies for nine years and the Montreal Expos for seven years.

Mauch's teams have won 1,524 games, the 10th highest total for a major league manager in baseball history.

Mauch began his playing career as a shortstop with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1943 and played for five other teams -- the Pirates, Cubs, Braves, Cardinals and Red Sox -- before retiring in 1957.

Advertisement

Latest Headlines

Advertisement
Advertisement

Follow Us

Advertisement