proCanes Jon Jay, Yonder Alonso remember coach Fraser

MIAMI -- The passing of Hall of Famers Stan Musial and Earl Weaver saddened baseball fans across the world last week.

In Miami, baseball fans also mourned the death of legendary University of Miami head coach Ron Fraser. The "Wizard of College Baseball" passed away last Sunday at the age of 79 due to complications from Alzheimer's disease.

Fraser, who won two national championships at Miami, revolutionized college baseball and had a huge impact on the lives of young men growing up in Miami who dreamed of one day becoming Hurricanes.

"I have pictures of myself at Ron Fraser Baseball Camp on the old turf field," said Cardinals outfielder Jon Jay. "That's really where I started to fall in love with UM. Ever since then, I always wore my UM cap everywhere I went."

Jay is one of several Miami natives in the big leagues who grew up watching Fraser's Canes dominate college baseball. The 27-year-old remembers meeting Fraser as a child and spending time with him in his three years playing at Miami.

"Ron Fraser reinvented the college game," Jay said. "He's somebody that really made his mark and changed college baseball forever. It's a big loss."

Padres first baseman Yonder Alonso, who was a teammate with Jay at Miami, remembers the moments he spent with Fraser fondly.

"I got to hear a lot of stories," Alonso said. "He would come around and talk to us. Obviously, it's a sad moment for us as Hurricanes and for baseball in general. He was a great coach, one of the greatest ever in the NCAA. As a player and a fan, you feel very sorry for his passing. He was such a great inspiration for the Hurricanes, and he's in a better place now."

Alonso was one of several big leaguers who attended the second annual Jon Jay Celebrity Bowling Challenge at Lucky Strike Lanes in Miami Beach on Saturday. Cardinals infielders David Freese and Daniel Descalso, Astros infielder Tyler Greene, Phillies outfielder John Mayberry, White Sox outfielder Blake Tekotte, Orioles catcher Luis Exposito and Nationals first baseman Chris Marrero were just some of the nearly 30 baseball players who came out to support Jay as he raised more than $30,000 for the Boys & Girls Club of Miami-Dade.

"All those people are good people," Jay said. "I try to surround myself with good people. I can't thank them enough because without them, this event wouldn't be possible."

Jay often takes the opportunity to give back in his hometown. Last year, Jay's Bowling Challenge raised more than $25,000 for Chapman Partnership, a local group that helps Miami's homeless. This year, Jay decided to give back to a place that is very special to him.

"The Boys' Club is really where I grew up," Jay said. "It's where I played ball and went after school. That's a place that had a big impact on me, and I just want to provide the same opportunity for other kids."

Jay, who hit .305 and played stellar defense for the Cardinals last season, is pleased with how the Celebrity Bowling Challenge has grown and hopes to continue his charitable efforts for years to come.

"We're excited about it," Jay said. "Last year, it was kind of put together quickly, but this year, we were able to plan it with a little more time and it's been successful. I'm so happy for the support the community has given me. This is where I was born and raised. I wouldn't be where I am without a lot of people that are here today. It's nice to get everyone together and have a good time for a good cause."

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