Jim Fregosi Profile: Chewing the Fat

On a cold winter weekend, Jim Fregosi and the Phillies brain trust weigh the troops, reflect on lost opportunities and get an early read on '96: Where the *&%!8 is Bowa?

INCAVIGLIA HAS A lot to catch up on. “Where the fuck is Johnny?” he asks, meaning Kruk.

“Lenny just told me he might do some shit for Fox,” says Fregosi.

“Get the fuck out of here.”

“Color work. You know, Fox just got the Game of the Week.”

“Is he okay? Is the cancer all right?”

“Oh, yeah.”

“I tried calling him in West Virginia.”

“He doesn’t return calls.”

“I saw a clip when he walked off the field. Boy, did he look terrible. I thought maybe it was the uniform.”

“No, he come into Philly last summer after he quit. I’m going to guarantee you, he’s 300 pounds right now.”

With Kruk gone, Fregosi needs a fourth for spades. “Maybe,” Incaviglia suggests, “[Owner Bill] Giles will come down.”

“Shit,” says Fregosi, “he ain’t making any money. He can’t afford to play with us.”

As drizzle turns to downpour on the TV, Dykstra hits his second homer. CBS flashes the list of players who’ve hit the most postseason homers in their careers. With nine, little Lenny is on the list with Ruth, Gehrig, Mantle, Jackson, et al. He’ll hit number ten in Game Six.

“He’s the next Mr. October,” says Incaviglia.

“Who’s the only pitcher to pitch in all seven games of a World Series?” asks Fregosi.

Darold Knowles!” says Brummer as Knowles, a minor-league pitching coach with the Phillies, walks into the room.

“How ’bout this?” asks Fregosi. “Who spent a whole year in the big leagues and never hit a fair ball?” No one here needs to be told that the answer is “John Vukovich,” who, as Mike Schmidt’s caddy in 1981, batted once and struck out.

“Vukey coming down?” asks Incaviglia.

“He’s here,” says Fregosi.

“Peewee coming?”

“No,” says the manager, while Cash and Brummer snicker. “Peewee’s not coming.”

“What? You fire him? You kill him?”

IN THE TOP of the sixth, David West takes the mound with a five-run lead. “I need 12 outs,” says Fregosi.

On the first pitch West throws, Devon White hits a double. On the second, Roberto Alomar hits a single. Play-by-play man Sean Ryan notes that the first ten batters West has faced in World Series competition (dating back to his time with the Twins) have all reached base. Pitching coach Johnny Podres goes to the mound. “Look at him,” says Fregosi. “‘What the fuck are you doing? Throw the fucking ball.”

Padres leaves, West gets an out, and Sean Ryan tells the world that the pitcher’s World Series ERA has fallen to 162. The room fills with groans. “Can they be cruel or what?” says Fregosi.

Reverting to form, West pops Molitor in the shin. The sound of ball hitting bone brings moans from the coaches. “The only problem,” says Fregosi, “is he stayed in the game.”

While Ryan and McCarver discuss Fregosi’s limited options, the camera catches the manager looking green and bending forward to deposit something on the floor of the dugout. “Was I spitting or throwing up?” asks Fregosi.

Remarkably, the inning ends with the Phillies still ahead. Wide-body West steps off the mound. “Westie’s rounding into shape there, isn’t he?” says Fregosi.

“I’ll make you a bet right now,” says Incaviglia. “How much do you think he weighs when he walks in here?”

“Oh, he’s in good shape.”

“Is he? Good. I’ll tell you what, in ’94, do you remember how hard he was throwing? People don’t believe it, but he threw harder than anybody I saw that year.”

With the Phillies up 14-9, Fregosi heads home. He will pick up his daughter from school and then go fishing with Knowles. While other anglers often drive all day to Lake Okeechobee and return empty-handed, Fregosi does most of his fishing in the ponds of his golf course, where he routinely reels in five- and six-pound bass. On the back of his own golf cart, he keeps his clubs on one side and a bucket of shiners on the other.

“Have you seen Fregosi’s golf cart?” Cash asks Brummer. “You could live in that thing.”