Born: June 23, 1977
Died: January 20, 2013
Ronald Fraser was born June 25, 1933 in Nutley. The son of a fireman who boxed a little to pick up spare cash on the side, Ron distinguished himself on the baseball diamond as a pitcher. He was a multi-sport star for Nutley High School and won the Raiders’ Best Athlete Award his senior year.
Ron continued his pitching career in college—first at Murray State and later at Florida State University, where he hurled relief for the Seminoles while earning a degree in Physical Education. He stayed at FSU as a graduate assistant coach before serving in the military. While stationed in West Germany, he coached the German national team to a bronze medal at the 1958 European Championships. He went on to lead the Dutch national team to three European titles between 1960 and 1962.
Ron was hired as head coach at the University of Miami prior to the 1963 season. UM president Henry Stanford discovered him on What’s My Line, where he stumped the panel.
Ron raised money to build a new ball field and exhibited a genius for promotion, luring fans to UM games with imaginative “nights” and give-away, and G-rated family entertainment. Ron built a team that earned a berth in the NCAA tournament in 1973 and continued its postseason run for two decades under his leadership. One of the key players on the 1973 club was New Jerseyan Wayne Krenchicki, who set a team record for hits as a freshman.
Ron’s teams won the College World Series twice, in 1982 and 1985. Neither team featured a big-name superstar. They were well-coached, gritty players who knew how to win. Ron’s success provided a model for rebuilding the Miami football program, which was all but dead in the 1970s. One of his assistants, Jim Morris, coached UM to two more CWS championships.
Ron retired in 1992 and coached the U.S. Olympic team in Barcelona that summer. His collegiate record included 1,271 victories, and the Hurricanes never had a losing season. He was named NCAA Coach of the Year three times and was enshrined in the College Baseball Foundation Hall of Fame in 2006. Ron passed away at age 79 of complications from Alzheimer’s disease.