Former Hurricanes baseball coach Ron Fraser passed away today after a long illness.
Much has been written about what an outstanding coach and promoter of college baseball Ron Fraser was. Off the field, Fraser was an even better person. One of the many random acts of kindness by Fraser I witnessed over the years was the one that happened after Fraser coached his last game in a 8-1 loss to Cal State Fullerton in a semi-final game at the 1992 College World Series. Under pressure from CBS to play a championship game the next day, on time, the game was played in a nearly constant downpour. An emotional Fraser (below) used the press conference to rail against the NCAA for playing the game in such poor conditions.
The following is what I wrote for UM’s Ibis Yearbook back then:
OMAHA, Neb. – The day from hell.
Upon arriving at NCAA media headquarters to pick up my press credential for the College World Series, the secretary handed me a seat cushion and a poncho.
Noticing the bright and sunny weather conditions outside, she deadpanned about our planned use of the rain gear at the game later that evening.
Little did we know she was a meteorologist. In the third inning that night, the skies opened up and our ponchos came out.
One good moment, though, came following the No. 1 Hurricanes’ dismal 8-1 loss to Cal State Fullerton in the semi-finals of the CWS.
As retiring coach Ron Fraser, after the final game of his 30-year career, left the stadium, he was met by a young boy waiting for an autograph in the pouring rain. Instead of his signature, “The Wizard of College Baseball” removed his hat and gave it to the young fan.
Over the years I came to know “The Wizard,” he did absolutely nothing to change my mind. This great university has lost a legend.