It was the Sunday before Memorial Day, 1992, and the top-ranked University of Miami was one defeat from elimination in the NCAA baseball tournament which also would have been Ron Frasers final game in his 30-year reign as the Hurricanes head coach.
Fraser, known as The Wizard of College Baseball, delivered a pep talk to rally his downtrodden Canes after they blew a 3-0 lead to North Carolina State and were tied 4-4 in the eighth inning.
What the hell are you guys doing to me? Fraser pleaded. Remember, if we lose this game, its over and I dont get paid anymore! I want to play more because tomorrows a holiday, and I get paid time-and-a-half!
The Canes rallied to victory, and the beloved Fraser would eventually go to his 12th and final College World Series in Omaha, Neb., before retiring that summer.
Sunday, more than 20 years after his emotional exit from Mark Light Stadium and the UM baseball program, Fraser died of complications from Alzheimers disease.
He was 79.
It is with profound sorrow we announce the passing of Ron Fraser husband, father, grandfather, uncle and coach, said the statement released by the Fraser family. He was surrounded by his family after a valiant and courageous battle with Alzheimers. Arrangements are pending.
Fraser amassed a 1,271-438-9 record at UM from 1963 through 92, at the time behind only the late Southern Cals Rod Dedeaux (1,332-571-11).
He transformed UM baseball from an afterthought to a national power and local draw, catering to fans of all ages, creating a fun, wacky atmosphere and producing the programs first two College World Series titles in 1982 and 1985.
Longtime Canes coach Jim Morris has carried the torch for two more titles in 1999 and 2001. Miami currently has qualified for the NCAA tournament a record 40 consecutive years.
I was an assistant for him, and he was the most influential person on my coaching career, Morris, about to begin his 20th season as UM coach, said Sunday. He was a role model for a lot of coaches. To me, he put college baseball on the map. He was the first guy to do everything, just a marketing genius, won national championships and was a great guy. The total package.
Ron Fraser represented college baseball like no one has ever represented college baseball.
And this, from Jay Rokeach, entering his 45th year as public address announcer for UM baseball after being hired by Fraser in 1969:
The South Florida community, the University of Miami and the college baseball world has lost one of its best assets. There will only be one Wizard of college baseball, and he will always be remembered as a great innovator, motivator and one of the greatest coaches in the history of baseball."
Immediately after his UM retirement, Fraser coached the 1992 U.S. Olympic baseball team in Barcelona.
The son of a fireman who moonlighted as a boxer to earn extra money for the family, Fraser grew up poor in Nutley, N.J., where his first baseball mitt came from a firehouse charity drive.
Named Outstanding Athlete his senior year at Nutley High, Fraser attended Murray State in Kentucky, then transferred to Florida State, where he was a pitcher and eventual graduate assistant coach. He earned his bachelors degree in physical education from FSU in 1960.