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Baseball’s Joe Frazier: 1922-2011

Feb 18, 2011, 8:47 AM EDT

Joe Frazier

A lot of folks may not remember Joe Frazier.  He played for the Indians, Reds, Cardinals and Orioles organizations in the late 40s through the 50s. His highest profile job in baseball was as manager of the Mets, but he only had the job for a short period of time.  He took over for the 1976 season and was fired 45 games into 1977.

His firing was sort of symbolic of what was about to happen with the Mets. A still competitive and respectable team in ’76 — they won 86 games that year — in ’77 they started horribly before Frazier was replaced by player/manager Joe Torre.  Two weeks later the Mets traded Tom Seaver and Dave Kingman on the same day in what came to be known as the “Saturday Night Massacre.”  The franchise was competitively moribund and generally dreary on the eyes of the fan base for several years afterwards. It was only when Strawberry and Gooden showed up that fortunes began to change.

In later years Frazier managed in the minors and held various jobs in and around baseball.  He retired to his home in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma where he lived with his wife until yesterday, when he died of a massive heart attack.

Good travels, Joe Frazier.

  1. sdelmonte - Feb 18, 2011 at 10:21 AM

    I remember him vaguely from a childhood spent rooting for a lousy Mets team (that wasn’t that lousy in ’76, but memories say otherwise). I was also sure that he was still manager when Seaver was traded. (In retrospect, trading Kingman was not really as terrible as trading Tom Terrific. It’s not like everyone else didn’t trade Kong too.) It was a strange, sad time to discover Mets baseball, one that only led me to a childhood dalliance with the Yankees in their heyday, Frazier and M. Donald Grant were among my first scapegoats, and I suspect that neither really deserved the blame I gave them.

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