The Wizard of College Baseball

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The Wizard of College Baseball

How Ron Fraser Elevated Miami and an Entire Sport to National Prominence

David Brauer

224 pages
25 photographs, 1 appendix

Hardcover

June 2024

978-1-4962-2043-1

$29.95 Pre-order

About the Book

No one changed the landscape of college baseball like Ron Fraser. The sport enjoyed little national interest until Fraser arrived at the University of Miami in 1963 and built his program into an entertainment empire and a national champion. Nationally televised college baseball games on ESPN can be traced back to Fraser’s lobbying work in the network’s early days. His efforts resulted in coverage growth and paved the way to making the College World Series one of ESPN’s marquee events. He created zany, one‑of‑a‑kind promotions, such as an open-heart surgery for one “lucky” fan (redeemable in a five‑year window) and the first mascot devoted to a college baseball team (the Miami Maniac). Aimed at gaining attention for his program and putting fans in the seats, his innovations achieved desired results on both fronts. Miami Hurricanes baseball became widely popular as the sport’s main draw in South Florida long before Major League Baseball expanded to the market full time.

Fraser’s biggest impact was on the field. Before the Miami Hurricanes football program became a household name, he put the school’s athletics program on the map by winning its first national championship. Fraser inherited a floundering baseball program that had no equipment or following and could pay him only as a part-time employee; he built that program into a perennial national power that made regular appearances at the College World Series. Along the way, he developed countless players into All‑Americans, MLB Draft picks, and eventual Major Leaguers. While some coaches have matched his wins and championships, none compare to his trailblazing and impact on an entire sport. David Brauer traces the roots of modern-day college baseball’s success to Fraser’s work at Miami. The Wizard of College Baseball is an inspirational and entertaining reflection on how one man forever changed college baseball—accelerating the sport’s growth and setting a new standard for modern college baseball well ahead of his time.
 

Author Bio

David Brauer is a communications, public relations, and marketing professional with more than two decades spent in the sports industry. His experience includes leadership in NCAA Division I athletics and summer collegiate baseball. A former baseball publicist at two Division I schools, he is a longtime college baseball aficionado and twenty-plus year College World Series attendee and season ticket holder. He is a University of Illinois graduate, who currently lives in Mahomet, Illinois, with his wife and two children.
 

Praise

“Ron Fraser was the king of college baseball. The Wizard of College Baseball chronicles the marvel of big crowds and media attention he established at Miami that launched the sport into a growth explosion leading to today’s national enthusiasm.”—Ron Polk, Hall of Fame baseball coach and author of The Baseball Playbook

“Having coached alongside Ron Fraser for eight seasons, I can say this book captures the essence of his brilliance, his entertaining persona, and the adoration felt for him as a coach and mentor. He was to college baseball what Muhammad Ali was to boxing.”—Skip Bertman, five-time national champion and Hall of Fame LSU baseball coach

“This book details the life and times of the P.T. Barnum of college baseball, but the book is so much more than that. It’s an in-depth, well-researched read about one of the most interesting and influential men in the history of the sport. Ron was a little bit like Charlie Finley, a little bit like Bill Veeck, and mostly one of a kind. Ron Fraser was indeed the ‘wizard,’ and this terrific book tells us why he was a wonderful wizard and ahead of his time.”—Roy Firestone, ESPN interviewer

The Wizard of College Baseball captures the magic of Miami’s three-ring circus with Ringmaster Ron Fraser! He was college baseball’s George Bailey: everything he touched he made better, and the sport grew thanks to the Wizard, who had a Wonderful Life!”—John Routh, Miami Maniac mascot (1983–1993) and executive director of the University of Miami Sports Hall of Fame and Museum

Table of Contents

Preface
Acknowledgments
1. Early Days at Miami
2. Progress
3. Omaha
4. Business Decision
5. Roaring Eighties
6. End of an Era
7. International Influence
8. Coaching Wisdom
9. College Baseball Trailblazer
10. Professional Baseball
11. Community and University Impact
12. Player Mentor
13. Personal Life
Appendix
Note on Sources
Bibliography  
 

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