Hometown Report: Legendary PA announcer Frizzi honored

Published: Friday, Jun. 28, 2013 - 5:34 pm
Last Modified: Sunday, Jun. 30, 2013 - 9:14 am

They threw a party for Len Frizzi last Sunday for this reason: just because.

Some 200 friends, family, coaches, teachers and ex-pupils packed the Dante Club to celebrate a regional sporting treasure. He was moved to laughter and tears. And for once, the roaster was roasted.

Frizzi served as the public-address announcer for football and baseball games at area high schools and colleges for 50 years. He did so for pocket change and love of competition. He provided comedic material as the emcee and moderator for luncheons and banquets, everyone bracing for a Frizzi zinger.

Frizzi retired the microphone two years ago. A hip replacement, the need to use a wheelchair and the onset of Parkinson's disease made navigating stairs and parking lots a painful, taxing chore. He was inducted into the Sac-Joaquin Section Hall of Fame in 2010 for his decades of work, and it breaks his heart that he cannot attend more events.

"Len Frizzi is high school sports around here," said Guy Anderson, the longtime Cordova baseball coach. "What a gem he is."

Frizzi, 83, said he might have attended his last game, which around here is akin to not having the national anthem. If true, Frizzi made his finale a grand one. Mira Loma, where Frizzi taught social studies from 1960 until retirement in 1988, recently dedicated its baseball field in his honor. The backstop bears his name.

Each of Frizzi's five sons starred on Mira Loma's baseball team, and he announced all of them in playoff games - Mike in 1968, Tom in '72, Brian in '75, Chris in '77 and Mark in '91. Daughter Gail, Frizzi reminded, "is the best-looking and the best athlete of all of them."

Frizzi said he is struggling with the rigors of old age, coming to grips with his mortality. He's emotional in reflection, then inspired by happy faces and stories as he still lights up a room.

Frizzi said he misses his wife of 65 years "every single day." Nellis died after a long illness last summer.

Mostly, Frizzi deals with his plight with his best attribute: humor.

Of the Mira Loma field dedication: "My first inclination was to keep it a secret. There are so many other deserving people. If they find out, they'll picket the place."

Of being the man of the hour at the Dante Club: "Very humbling. It makes me wonder what the criteria (were) to have this party. Maybe I owe people a lot of money."

The laugh track has been must-hear material for years. Frizzi once introduced Grant football coach Mike Alberghini at a banquet by saying: "I had Mike in history (at Mira Loma). He couldn't remember who won World War II, but he could tell you who won the Heisman Trophy in 1942."

Said Mark Frizzi: "You know you've arrived as a coach when Dad gets you. He got a lot of them. He deserves a party because he's one of a kind."

Strahan bows out - Kathy Strahan has retired after 21 seasons as Sacramento State's softball coach.

She won 823 games, becoming the 52nd coach in NCAA history - all divisions - to reach the 800-win milestone, with 576 coming with the Hornets. Her Sac State teams won at least 25 games 15 times, including nine 30-win seasons.

Strahan was named the Coach of the Year in three conferences (Big West, Western Athletic and Pacific Coast Softball) and graduated 93 percent of her athletes. A replacement hasn't been named.

Stassi power - Max Stassi, a two-time Bee Player of the Year from Yuba City, emphatically ended a slump with the Double-A Corpus Christi Hooks. The Houston Astros catching prospect had two home runs, including a grand slam, and a career-best eight RBIs in a 13-1 rout of Springfield.

He had one homer in 113 at-bats coming in. Stassi said his previous "great game" was in 2008 at Yuba City, where he smacked three homers and had nine RBIs.

Three-down football - Dan Hawkins, who played and coached at UC Davis and coached Christian Brothers to its last great season in 1986, was given a celebratory cooler bath Thursday night for winning his Canadian Football League debut.

The former Boise State and Colorado coach led the Montreal Alouettes to a 38-33 victory over Winnipeg in the season opener.

Follow on Joe Davidson @SacBee_JoeD and listen to his "Extra Point" every Wednesday on ESPN1320.net

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