Former Giants' special assistant and legendary Serra High School athlete Jim Fregosi died early Friday.

The news was confirmed by Fregosi's eldest son, Jim Jr., in a report published by USA Today.

Fregosi, 71, was on a cruise with other former big-league players when he suffered a series of strokes earlier this week. He was hospitalized in the Cayman Islands, then flown to Miami, where on Thursday he was removed from life support.

"He had it in his will, no life support," said Gary Hughes, a close friend and former teammate of Fregosi's at Serra. "He walked around with a Neptune Society card the last three years.

"He was a very generous guy. He came across as the toughest guy in the world, but he was a softie. Ask the clubhouse guy or a waitress."

Fregosi, a six-time all-star at shortstop for the Angels, played for 18 seasons in the big leagues, then spent another 15 years as a major-league manager. He was a special assistant to Giants general manager Brian Sabean before he left to manage the Toronto Blue Jays in 1999. He had spent the last several seasons working for the Atlanta Braves as a special assistant to the general manager.

At Serra, a school that has produced greats such as Barry Bonds, Lynn Swann and Tom Brady, Fregosi's prep career might have surpassed them all. He earned 11 varsity letters in four sports -- running back in football, guard on the basketball team and a long-jumper in track -- in addition to his exploits on a baseball diamond. He was all-Catholic Athletic League in all four sports, and held the school record in the long jump until it was broken by Swann.


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"He would broad jump between innings of baseball games," Hughes said. "Then after the game, if Serra needed to win the relay to win the track meet, they'd come get Jimmy and he'd anchor the relay team."

"A true Serra legend, arguably the best athlete to come out of Serra. And there's been a few good ones," former Serra baseball coach Pete Jensen said. "He was at the top of the list. A real loss to Serra athletics.''

In 1978, shortly after being released by the Pittsburgh Pirates in what would be his 18th and final big-league season, Fregosi told the Los Angeles Times that he thought his best sport in high school was football. He received several scholarship offers to play football in college, but he turned those down when the Boston Red Sox gave him a $20,000 bonus to sign with them, according to the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR).

He was just as well-regarded by those in Major League Baseball as he was by the folks at Serra. When he was released by the Pirates in 1978, it was at the request of California Angels owner Gene Autry, who wanted the then 36-year-old Fregosi to manage his club. He managed the Angels for four seasons, guiding them to the A.L. West title in 1979.

"Jim's induction into the Angels Hall of Fame and the retiring of his uniform No. 11 were among the prouder moments in club history," the Angels said in a statement. "His personality was infectious, his love of the game legendary, and his knowledge endless."

"The passing of Jim Fregosi leaves a hole in the unique fabric of our great game," Sabean said in a statement. "He was a great friend and mentor to so many no matter what hat he wore. His bigger than life personality will be sorely missed. He was a one-of-a kind baseball lifer."

In addition to the Angels, Fregosi managed the Chicago White Sox, Philadelphia Phillies and Blue Jays, winning the N.L pennant with the Phillies in 1993. But Philadelphia lost the World Series in six games to Toronto.

Fregosi played 11 of his 18 big-league season's with the Angels, making his major-league debut when he was 19. He joined the Angels shortly after signing with Boston, being taken in the 1960 expansion draft by the newly-formed club. He was a six-time All-Star with the Angels, his best season coming in 1967 when he hit .290, won his only Gold Glove and finished seventh in the A.L. Most Valuable Player voting.

After the 1971 season, Fregosi was traded by the Angels to the New York Mets for four players including future Hall of Famer Nolan Ryan. Fregosi spent a year and a half with the Mets before moving on to the Texas Rangers, then the Pirates.

Fregosi is survived by his wife Joni, daughters Nikki, Lexy and Jennifer and sons Robert and Jim, according to USA Today.