WESTON, Fla., Jan. 21 (UPI) -- Coach Ron Fraser, 79, who built the University of Miami's baseball team into a national power, has died after a long struggle with Alzheimer's disease.
Fraser died Sunday morning, surrounded by his family at his Weston, Fla., home.
In his 30-year career from 1962 to 1993, Miami won two College World Series titles, but more importantly, it was Fraser who convinced the then-2-year-old ESPN cable sports network to televise college baseball, beginning in 1981, the South Florida Sun Sentinel reported Monday.
"The key was TV," Fraser reminisced in 2004. "I begged ESPN to televise games."
The College World Series remains a ratings hit, the newspaper said.
"To me he was the most influential guy in the history of the game," said present Miami baseball Coach Jim Morris, who took over the school's program when Fraser retired. "He put college baseball on the map and also won national championships. So that's a pretty unique combination."
Coaching Miami, Fraser compiled a 1,271-438-9 record.