Former KC, Cubs manager Jim Frey dies at 88

April 14th, 2020

KANSAS CITY -- Jim Frey, who managed the Royals to their first World Series appearance and guided the Cubs to the 1984 National League East title, passed away Sunday at the age of 88.

Frey's passing was confirmed Tuesday by the Cubs, whom he led back to the postseason in 1989 as their general manager.

Frey led Kansas City to a 97-65 record in 1980 before losing in the World Series to Philadelphia in six games. He was let go during the strike-shortened 1981 season.

After serving as a coach for the Mets in 1982 and ‘83, Frey took over managing the Cubs in 1984, leading them to a 96-65 record and the division crown. The Cubs lost to the Padres in five games in the National League Championship Series, but Frey was named NL Manager of the Year.

Frey was replaced during the 1986 season by John Vukovich. But Frey was hired by the Cubs in November 1987 as their new GM, replacing Dallas Green. Frey made several controversial trades, dealing players such as Lee Smith, Keith Moreland, Rafael Palmerio and Jamie Moyer.

But one player Frey received in return was closer Mitch Williams, who saved 36 games in 1989 and helped the Cubs toward another division title. The Cubs lost to the Giants in the NLCS in five games. Frey eventually was reassigned within the Cubs organization in 1991.

The Cubs released the following statement on Frey’s passing:

“The Chicago Cubs are saddened to learn of the passing of Jim Frey, a central figure in our club’s most memorable moments of the 1980s. Upon being named manager for the 1984 season, Jim took over a club that had not had a winning record since 1972 and immediately helped return the Cubs to postseason play, leading the team to the NL East title and its first playoff appearance in 39 years, earning NL Manager of the Year honors along the way. As our general manager, he constructed a playoff club in 1989 to again land the Cubs in the postseason.

“We join the baseball community in mourning Jim’s passing and send our condolences to his family and friends.”

Frey, who never reached the Major Leagues as a player, spent much of his playing career in the Boston/Milwaukee Braves and Cardinals organizations. After retiring, he became a scout and Minor League manager for the Orioles.

In the 1970s, Frey served on Orioles manager Earl Weaver’s staff, coaching on three American League pennant winners and one World Series champion.

Frey helped found the independent Somerset Patriots in 1998 and was close to former big league reliever Sparky Lyle, a former Patriots manager. Frey had managed Lyle in the Baltimore system.

“Jim was a great baseball mind and the person who gave me my first chance in the game,” Lyle said in a Patriots news release. “He saw the opportunity for me to be a relief pitcher back then and set me on that path. We remained good friends all this time. It’s very sad to hear of his passing. Mary and I send our thoughts and prayers to the Frey family during this difficult time.”

Frey is survived by his wife Joan, their three daughters, six grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.