Todd Frazier is an iconic figure in his hometown of Toms River, New Jersey. When he returned from winning a silver medal with the U.S. Olympic team last summer, he was greeted by a large crowd of supporters and escorted home by a VIP entourage of fire trucks, ambulances, and police vehicles.
Now, after announcing his retirement from Major League Baseball, Frazier may be celebrated again by his neighbors and friends. But the two-time All-Star will also be well remembered in New York, Cincinnati, and Chicago.
From Little League glory to All-Star Game spotlight
The journey to baseball stardom truly began for Frazier in 1998, when he was a 12-year-old standout on the Little League World Series Championship team from Toms River. After starring at Rutgers University, he was taken in the first round of the 2007 MLB Draft by the Cincinnati Reds. He debuted with the team in 2011, kickstarting an 11-year MLB career.
Frazier quickly became a fan and team favorite in Cincinnati, and many Reds aficionados still revere him as one of their most-liked players. In the clubhouse, he became a well-respected leader and was always readily available to the media. Frazier was highly regarded by those who covered the team for being straightforward and honest with them.
He was held in high esteem around the league as well, which became evident when he was named the spokesperson for the 2015 All-Star Game in Cincinnati. He then etched his name in Reds lore forever by winning that year’s home run derby at Great American Ball Park. The kid from New Jersey was officially and eternally taken in as one of Cincinnati’s own sons.
“Winning that Home Run Derby was really special for me and the fans,” Frazier told The Game Day. “Winning the division with the Reds in 2012 was spectacular. The people there welcomed me with open arms, and that’s why I loved them so much.“
Prior to the 2016 season, Frazier was traded to the Chicago White Sox, where he delivered career highs in home runs (40), runs (89), and RBIs (98). He nearly won the Home Run Derby again, finishing second. The following year, Frazier returned to where he was truly destined to play before he finished writing his MLB story.
Todd Frazier comes home
In the summer of 2017, Frazier, who had been a Yankees fan as a youngster, was traded to New York and finally got his chance to don the pinstripes. He immediately emerged as a leader on a Yankees ballclub that won 91 regular-season games and advanced to the seventh game of the American League Championship Series.
In his next move, Frazier pulled off a feat that most local ballplayers can only dream of. He signed a two-year deal with the New York Mets, assuring that he would play for both of the MLB teams from his local area. Most young players dream of joining up with just one of the two New York teams as a professional, but Frazier was able to wear both uniforms.
“Being able to play for both teams meant everything to me, especially being a Jersey guy,” Frazier said. “I couldn’t have asked for anything more special. I had friends who were Mets fans, and friends who were Yankee fans, and it made for some great banter.”
Frazier hit 39 homers in two seasons with the Mets while solidifying his legacy as one of baseball’s model citizens. He was an axis of the clubhouse, as players from all walks of life regarded him as one of their most trusted and favored teammates.
He always had a line of media types waiting at his locker and made time for everyone he could, whether they were a veteran beat writer or a rookie reporter on their first assignment. And he always made quality time for the fans, too.
He was known for being gracious, but Frazier also displayed intensity and strived for a high level of performances. He was a relentless competitor who pushed as hard in the clubhouse fantasy football league as he did when he was on the field. His infectious drive and passion for the game raised the morale of his teammates. All along, he gave and commanded the highest levels of respect to everyone.
“I tried to be welcoming to everybody – that is my personality,” Frazier said. “That is how my parents raised me, to give everybody a chance and to love them. I brought that to all of my teammates and coaches.”
After a brief stint with the Texas Rangers, Frazier returned to the Mets in the summer of 2020. He even pitched a scoreless inning for them, which harkened back to his Little League World Series days when he was the winning pitcher in the championship game.
To those who know him in his hometown, Todd Frazier is as synonymous with New Jersey as Bruce Springsteen or Bon Jovi. But his MLB travels led to him being adopted by Cincinnati, and he is also remembered well by White Sox followers. He will be fondly recalled by baseball fans and historians as more than just a hero from the tri-state area.