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Ron Fraser, 79; college baseball coach, promoter

Ron Fraser (left) chatted with former Yankees owner George Steinbrenner in 1992.

Peter Cosgrove/AP/file

Ron Fraser (left) chatted with former Yankees owner George Steinbrenner in 1992.

CORAL GABLES, Fla. — Ron Fraser coached the national teams from two countries, is a member of 10 Halls of Fame, won two NCAA baseball championships, and never had a losing record in a 30-year career with the Miami Hurricanes.

He will be remembered for so many other reasons.

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Mr. Fraser, dubbed ‘‘the wizard of college baseball,’’ died Sunday morning after fighting Alzheimer’s disease for many years, family spokesman Tony Segreto said. University officials said Fraser was 79, though a statement issued by his family did not divulge his age or other private matters, including a cause of death.

Mr. Fraser led Miami to national titles in 1982 and 1985, taking the Hurricanes to the College World Series 12 times over his 30 years at the school. He retired in 1992 with 1,271 wins.

His legacy, however, may be what he did to promote the game.

From raffling car batteries to bikini nights to even offering nine-course gourmet meals on the infield of the team’s stadium, Mr. Fraser had ideas that even he called ‘‘crazy.’’ His unusual ways proved successful, as the Hurricanes not only became a winner on the field, but one of the best-known brands in college baseball.

‘‘I was more interested in getting the people in the stands,’’ Mr. Fraser once said, ‘‘because I knew we’d never be really successful unless we made money.’’

Mr. Fraser also played a key role in getting baseball on national television.

And now, the College World Series is a mainstay on TV, as are hundreds of regular-season games annually.

Mr. Fraser was named NCAA coach of the year three times and coached numerous US national teams, including the 1992 Olympic team.

Mr. Fraser was born and raised in New Jersey, then attended Florida State.

He took over at Miami in 1963 with a $2,200 salary, a converted shower for an office, and a cow pasture for a field. College baseball was not a revenue-generating sport, even for successful programs, so Mr. Fraser got creative.

Giveaways, parachutists, whatever he could think of, were all part of Mr. Fraser’s plan to entice more people to come see his team.

Attendance at Miami grew over a seven-year span from 33,000 a season to 90,000. And in 1981, the Hurricanes set a record with 163,261 fans, over 3,200 per game. Attendance dipped below 100,000 only once for the remainder of Mr. Fraser’s tenure.

After eight straight winning seasons to start off his tenure at Miami, the Hurricanes finally broke through with the school’s first NCAA Tournament appearance in 1971. In 1982, the Hurricanes swept through five games in Omaha, clinching the school’s first national title with a 9-3 win over Wichita State.

Three seasons later, the Hurricanes won their second championship, beating Texas twice in three days for the 1985 crown. a school-record 64 wins.

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