Joe Frazier: Mid Seventies Mets Manager (1976-1977)

Joseph Filmore Frazier was born on October 6, 1922, in Liberty, North Carolina.

The right-handed hitting outfielder was signed as an amateur free agent by the Cleveland Indians in 1941.

He served three years Military service during World War II, returning to baseball in 1946 playing with Wilkes Barre at A ball batting .300.

MLB Career: In 1947 he batted .276 at AA Oklahoma City getting called up for nine games with Cleveland going 1-4. 

 He was traded to the St. Louis Browns organization and toiled in the minors for seven seasons.

In 1953 he had his best year, winning the Texas League MVP batting .332 with 22 HRs 55 doubles & 113 RBIs. He was eventually traded to the St. Louis Cardinals, finally getting back up to the big leagues in 1954.

He played in 81 games, batting .295, with 3 HRs 5 doubles 18 RBIs & a .388 on base %. His teammate Eddie Stanky “the Brat” called Frazier “the Cobra” because he’d strike like a snake as a pinch hitter.

The next season he hit only .200 in 58 games with a career high four HRs. In 1956 he bounced around with three teams, going from St. Louis to the Cincinnati Reds & Baltimore Orioles batting .245 in 69 games. 

He went back down to the minors for four more seasons before retiring from his playing career.

His MLB career lasted four seasons playing in a career 217 games with 68 hits 10 HRs 45 RBIs & a .241 average. 

Post Playing Career: After his playing days, Frazier scouted for the Houston Colt .45s, and then managed in the newly named Houston Astros' system in 1965 & 1966. 

In 1968, Whitey Herzog the Mets Director of Player Development gave Frazier a job in the Mets organization.

After spending 1969 at A ball Pompano Beach, he moved on to three seasons as at Class A Visalia, with the Visalia Mets of the California League. In 1971, his team finished first & won the playoffs. 

Frazier then went on to win league championships with AA Memphis (1973) and Victoria (1974) in the Texas League. 

Next, he moved up to AAA Tidewater in 1975 earning the Minor League Manager of the Year Award. That season his Tides won 22 of their last 33 games, tying for first place.

 Nino Espinosa pitched a four hit shutout winning the title game for the Tides. Frazier’s team then went on to sweep two playoff series & win IL Pennant.

In August of 1975 the Mets dropped to just three games over .500 & they fired manager Yogi Berra. Roy McMillan was promoted from coach to the interim manager. McMillan agreed to take the job but stated he didn’t want the job for the 1976 season. 

The Mets thought of promoting Frazier then but he was in pennant race with the Tides.

Mets Manager: The Mets surprised everyone that off season when they promoted Frazier from within their organization. 

Quotes: At his introductory press conference, Mets GM Joe McDonald said, "Joe Frazier has consistently proved to us his ability to handle players. Winning is what it's all about, and Joe Frazier is a winner."

Quotes- Joe Frazier: "I'm the type of manager who stresses
fundamentals. I think a man should go from first to third on a hit and second to home. I demand hustle. If I have my way, you're going to see a Mets' club next year that will hustle.

For the 1976 bicentennial year, Joe Frazier became seventh manager in Mets history. He had most of the usual veterans, but they were aging. 

He promoted Roy Staiger, whom he manager in the minors, to play third base, but he was bust batting .220 with two HRs in 95 games. Another of his young former Tides players, Bruce Boisclair showed some promise batting .287 but he lacked power.

Del Unser was brought over to play center but hit just .228. 

The team got off to a good start & were in first place by the second week of May. But then things got bad from there, by June 11th they were five games under .500. 

But in late June they went on a ten-game win streak showing signs of promise. But .500 baseball over the next two months had them fall off again. A September resurgence had them go 20-9 in the month to finish at 86-76 in third place.

His pitching staff was one of the best, leading the league in ERA (2.94) strike outs (1025) shut outs (17) complete games (53) as well as the least hits, runs, earned runs & walks (419).
But a poor offense as Frazier's Mets batted .246 ninth of twelve in the NL.

1977: The next season after a slow start, the Mets were 15-30 in May, Joe Frazier was let go. He was replaced by Joe Torre who started out as a player/manager. Torre had been a supporter of Frazier saying, "when I had a bad day, he was always there".

Everything fell apart for the Mets from there, GM M. Donald Grant refused to give in to the new high priced free agent market & guys like Jon Matlack & Dave Kingman demanded trades. Tom Seaver was soon traded the next month & the team fell into last place for the next few years.

During the Joe Frazier era the team was 101-106, just below the .500 mark. His 101 wins are the 15th most by Mets managers. For Frazier it would be his only big-league managerial job.

He remained in the Mets organization as a roving scout, until his old friend Whitey Herzog, now enjoying success in St. Louis gave him a minor league managers job. 

In 1982 he managed for the last time, with the St. Louis Cardinals organization in the minor leagues, finishing in second place.

Family: As his playing career was winding down, Joe & his wife Thelma bought a pecan farm outside of Tulsa, Oklahoma. 

They had two sons, Joe Jr. & Marty. The two were married for 50 years until her passing in 1998. He then lived in Broken Arrow Oklahoma & was an avid golfer.

Joe then married his second wife Jean who also had lost her longtime spouse.

Passing: Frazier passed away on February 15, 2011, at the age of 88 in Broken Arrow. He is survived by his wife, three children & six grandchildren.


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