MIAMI (CBS4) – Friends and fellow colleagues of former University of Miami Baseball Coach Ron Fraser are mourning their loss.
Fraser died Sunday at the age of 79.
“It is with profound sorrow we announce the passing of Ron Fraser, husband, father, grandfather,
uncle, and coach,” said a statement read by family spokesman Tony Segreto. “He was surrounded by his family, after a valiant and courageous battle with Alzheimer’s (disease).”
Arrangements are pending.
Fraser had three daughters. His players were like his sons, but you didn’t have to be on the roster to feel like part of his family.
“He was like a second father to me in many, many ways,” Segreto said.
That was a sentiment echoed by UM baseball play-by-play announcer Jay Rokeach.
“I think of him like a second dad,” Rokeach said Sunday. “He’s just a gentleman that really did so much to bring attention to the University of Miami. He put college baseball on the map.”
That’s why many call Fraser “The Wizard of College Baseball.”
In his 30 years at UM, he tallied up more than 1200 wins.
He was inducted in to the university’s Sports Hall of Fame in 1995.
His jersey is still there today. His number, 1, was retired.
John Routh is the executive director of the UM Sports Hall of Fame. Routh was the Hurricanes mascot before becoming the man behind “Billy the Marlin”, a job he said he owed to Fraser.
Routh said the coach was integral in bringing Major League Baseball to Miami.
“Before the Marlins, the Panthers and the Heat, there was Dolphins football and Hurricane baseball. Those were the two big things. So Ron Fraser is as big in the sports world of South Florida as Don Shula,” Routh explained.
“Unmistakably a man with integrity. A man with passion,” Segreto said. “You can’t ask for more than that of an educator, of a coach and of a man.”
Fraser retired from coaching in 1992.
“I will miss this. I will miss these young people. Who really made life worthwhile,” Fraser said at his retirement celebration more than 20 years ago.
The university has been planning to install a statue of Fraser at the ballpark on the Coral Gables Campus, but is still working on raising the necessary funds.
Donations can be made to the “Ron Fraser Wizard Fund”. For more information, contact Rick Remmert, UM’s Director of Alumni Programs at firstname.lastname@example.org.