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Halos legend Fregosi critical after multiple strokes

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Former Angels player and manager Jim Fregosi was fighting for his life in a Miami hospital on Thursday after suffering multiple strokes while on an MLB Alumni cruise in the Cayman Islands, according to multiple news reports.

The 71-year-old was stabilized in the Caymans, transported to Miami and had remained on life support until Thursday, when the system was removed and Fregosi was placed under sedation.

Fregosi spent 18 years as a player, and parts of 15 different seasons as a manager beginning in 1978 with the team that allowed him to be an All-Star shortstop. He has spent the last 13 years in Atlanta, serving as a special assistant to the general manager.

Originally signed by the Boston Red Sox as a free agent in 1960, Fregosi was grabbed by the Angels in the 35th round of the expansion draft held to stock both the Halos and Washington Senators franchises in the winter of 1960.

He quickly became the offensive star of a team that struggled mightily during its first decade of existence. While the Angels largely found themselves in the bottom half of the 10-team American League during the 1960s, Fregosi was the All-Star that fans could identify with.

His best season with the Halos was in 1970, when he hit .278 with 33 doubles, 22 home runs and 82 RBI in 158 games.

After the 1971 season, Fregosi became the answer to a trivia question when he was dealt to the New York Mets in exchange for four players, one of which was a 24-year-old righty named Nolan Ryan.

Fregosi never came close to matching the offensive numbers of 1970 for the rest of his career. In 1973, the Mets dealt him to the Texas Rangers. Texas also traded Fregosi in 1977 to the Pittsburgh Pirates, where he finished his playing career in June of 1978.

Following his retirement as a player, owner Gene Autry brought Fregosi back to Southern California, this time as the manager of a team that had gotten off to an average start despite having a pitching staff anchored by Ryan and Frank Tanana and an offense featuring slugger Don Baylor and veterans Bobby Grich and Joe Rudi.

The result of his presence was immediate, as the Halos found their chemistry. Newly acquired Lyman Bostock got out of a bad April slump to hit the way he had in Minnesota, rookie Carney Lansford took over at third base, former backup Brian Downing became the starting catcher, and pitchers Chris Knapp and Dave Frost gave Ryan and Tanana some much needed help in the rotation.

The Angels managed to stay with two-time defending AL West champs Kansas City until a swoon in September where the team lost six of eight effectively ended the race. Fregosi also managed to keep the group together after the tragic murder of Bostock after the team's game on September 23rd.

The next season, given some newly acquired veterans to go along with Baylor, Grich, Downing and Lansford, Fregosi guided the team to 1979 AL West title, the first banner for the club in its 19-year history.

However, the loss of Ryan in free agency, a big drop-off in production from players like "Disco" Dan Ford and subpar seasons from others led to the Angels going 65-95 in 1980 and finishing sixth in the division behind the eventual AL champion Royals.

The Angels got off to an equally sluggish start in 1981, and Fregosi was replaced by Gene Mauch just before the 1981 players' strike.

Following three years out of the dugout, Fregosi was hired by the Chicago White Sox, where he managed through the end of the 1988 season. Three years later, the Philadelphia Phillies came calling, and Fregosi led them to the 1993 World Series, where they lost in six games to the Toronto Blue Jays.

Toronto would turn out to be Fregosi's last stint as a manager, leading the team to third-place finishes in the AL East in 1998 and 1999.