College baseball, 'canes icon dies
CORAL GABLES — Ron Fraser, who coached Miami to two national titles and helped promote the sport, died Sunday. The school said he was 79. His family in a statement did not disclose his age or other details, including cause of death. Mr. Fraser had Alzheimer's disease for many years.
Mr. Fraser, called "The wizard of college baseball," led Miami to the College World Series 12 times over his 30 years, winning it in 1982 and 1985. The 1982 title came with help from "The Grand Illusion," a hidden ball trick. Used in a Series winners bracket game, it was a fake errant pickoff attempt to first so detailed, FSU coach Mike Martin said Mr. Fraser would "teach the bat girls to scramble as if they were getting out of the way of the ball."
Mr. Fraser retired in 1992 with 1,271 wins (18th all time) and no losing seasons.
His legacy also lies in sparking interest in the game. His promotional ideas included raffling car batteries, hosting nine-course meals on the infield and bikini nights. Mr. Fraser had ideas even he called "crazy." But Miami became one of the best brands in college baseball, often drawing crowds of more than 3,000 to games.
"I was more interested in getting the people in the stands," Mr. Fraser once said, "because I knew we'd never be really successful unless we made money."
Mr. Fraser also helped get college baseball on national TV. Today its World Series and most of its tournaments air. "The impact he had on our university, on college baseball and on the game itself worldwide is immeasurable," acting Miami AD Blake James said.
Mr. Fraser graduated from FSU. He was inducted into its Hall of Fame in 1981, though it had little to do with his career as a reliever. "A brilliant promoter and coach, he has advanced collegiate baseball at the University of Miami, across Florida and across the nation," read the text of his induction.
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Don Jensen, Times correspondent; Times wires