I got goosebumps while watching game six of The World Series when the TV commentator said, “The late, great Jim Fregosi said, ‘Sometimes you have to know how to lose.’” Jim Fregosi was my first business partner in the mid ‘60s.
Late and Great
Jimmy was playing shortstop for the California Angels and was the highest paid shortstop in the American League at the time. He was a real celebrity, especially in Anaheim.
We literally could not go into a bar or restaurant where he was not known and sought after for autographs. It was a real treat to be with him and get to know him. I had the pleasure of going to Palm Springs with the Angels and sit in the dugout during their spring training games.
I learned a lot of things from Jimmy, perhaps the most important was the difference between professionals and amateurs in anything. Following is the best single example of the lessons he taught me.
We were having lunch at a restaurant in Anaheim one day and he said, “I need to get out to the ballpark and take batting practice.” I hated to see him leave and said, “Jimmy, why do you have to take batting practice? All you’ve done your whole life is hit baseballs.” His response changed my life.
Jimmy said, “Ron, we do not take batting practice to learn how to hit, we all know how to hit the ball. I cannot help it, on the way to the ballpark I have a little bit of Little Jimmy (his son) going on in my head, a little bit of Jan (his then wife) going on in my head, a little bit of last night’s game going on, and I will probably have a little bit of this lunch going on. He then went on to say, “But, to play at this level you can’t have anything else on your mind than tonight’s game. When we put on the uniform and go out on the field to take batting practice everything else goes away and we get focused on why were here tonight.”
The words that continue to give me goosebumps are, “To play at this level.”
The difference between Jimmy and many of his teammates was that he knew WHY they take batting practice. He told went on two say, “When you know HOW to do your job you can keep it, when you know WHY you can become the Manager.”
When Jimmy eventually became too old to hit baseballs he was made manager of the California Angels and then went on to manage several other big lead baseball teams. GOOGLE him. Jimmy died on Valentine’s Day two years ago and I watched television all day as they showed reruns of some of his best performances at bat and on the field.