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BASEBALL: Frazier family has deep roots in Fort Smith baseball

by LELAND BARCLAY Special to the NWA Democrat-Gazette | August 3, 2022 at 4:00 a.m.
Chad Frazier, left, and Theresa Frazier, right, are a Fort Smith baseball family with deep roots at Fort Smith Northside and with the American Legion baseball programs. Sons Jett, second from left, and Max have been integral players for the Sportsman American Legion teams this summer. Jett is a shortstop for the AAA team that won the state championship and will compete in the American Legion regional tournament starting today in Alabama. Max was the coach of the AA team that went undefeated and captured the state championship earlier this summer. (Courtesy photo)

FORT SMITH -- Baseball season has been quite a hit for the Frazier family.

"It was a wild ride this summer, no question," Chad Frazier said. "It's been a lot of fun."

Frazier, an assistant football coach at Fort Smith Northside and former Grizzly baseball player and coach, and his wife, Theresa, spent the summer watching their oldest son, Max, coach the AA American Legion baseball team and their youngest son, Jett, play for the AAA American Legion Sportsman team.

"I saw two different sides of it; Max out there leading it and influencing the kids and coaching the kids, and then Jett out there with his teammates putting themselves under the authority of the coaches," Frazier said. "We had a lot of fun with it. I told them this is the best time of the lives. They'll remember this stuff forever."

Max, 23, was named the head coach of the AA American Legion Forsgren and promptly guided them to an undefeated state championship in June.

Jett just helped the Sportsman win the AAA American Legion state tournament last week and will be in Alabama starting today for the American Legion regional tournament.

So, for Chad and Theresa, it doesn't get much better than that as parents.

"It really doesn't," Chad said. "It's been a product of a lot of people around them; coaches and teammates. Sitting up in the bleachers and watching them do their thing has been so much fun."

Chad played on Northside's first organized baseball teams in 1990-1992 and then coached the Grizzlies from 2006-2010, so he knew when Fort Smith Boys and Girls Club Director Jerry Glidewell and Sportsman coach Trey Prieur entrusted the AA team to young Max that it was a big deal.

"He was so grateful, and my wife, Teresa, and I were too, of the opportunity and trust that Jerry Glidewell and Trey Prieur had in him to lead those kids and be the head coach at such a young age," Chad said. "We're so grateful for that. He's known for four or five years that that's what he's wanted to do is coach. That opportunity came, and he asked me what I thought. I knew it would be good for him to bring kids from all over the area from different schools and piece it together, make out different lineups every day. From a leadership and experience standpoint, he had to figure it out."

Forsgren won the AA state tournament in grand fashion with an 8-0 win over Saline County to cap a perfect season.

"I would see him at home, making out lineups and piecing stuff together, who's pitching, who's playing here, who's playing there," Chad said. "He was thinking five or six games out, pitching wise. He had to really strategize a lot. I'd be in my recliner, and he'd be sitting there with a scratch piece of paper making out his lineup. It was a lot of fun to watch it."

Jett was instrumental in the Sportsman's run to the AAA state title, especially in the championship game both at the plate and at shortstop. Sportsman jumped out to a 7-0 lead but Paragould tied the game with two runs in the bottom of the seventh to force extra innings. His bunt single scored Paxton Pitts for a go-ahead run in the top of the eighth that was the difference in an 8-7 win.

Jett's defense, though, was really the difference in the bottom of the inning. He back-handed a short hop throw from catcher Will Rollans at second for a force out for the first out. He ended the game when he shifted behind second base and fielded a ground ball up the middle, stepped on the bag and threw to first for a game-ending double play.

"Every play in that game was dynamic," Chad said.

Chad played quarterback for the Grizzlies in the 90s, Max also played quarterback for the Grizzlies and Jett wrapped up a solid football season with wins over rivals Southside and Greenwood.

They've always been a baseball family, though. Chad played collegiately at Westark Junior College under legendary Bill Crowder. Max also played collegiately at the University of Arkansas-Fort Smith, and Jett is headed to play at Carl Albert State College in Poteau, Okla.

"We have been no question with deep roots in baseball," Frazier said. "I always wanted the boys to play as many sports as possible as long as they could. Deep down, though, baseball was always the love. They played travel ball, played Church League, so our roots run deep and we're highly invested in baseball over the years."

Chad Frazier was like a lot of area fans, though, when news of the passing of Crowder was received last Monday.

"A few months ago when he was really sick, we thought that he might not make it through that time but he pulled through," Frazier said. "He was tough. Losing Coach Crowder, he's been such a baseball icon around here for so long. The influence that he had on me and the opportunity he gave me, it wasn't like there were 20 colleges recruiting me when I came out of high school. He was one of the few. He believed in me and gave me a chance and the opportunity to live out my dream and play baseball."

Like generations of players that Crowder influenced and coached, Frazier had an appreciation of how he taught more than just baseball.

"Coach Crowder believed in the educational process and having the priorities right." Frazier said. "Baseball was important, but it wasn't the most important thing. That's what he tried to impress on us as players to get an education and go on to a four-year school to be the best guy you could be and the best teammate you could be. Losing him around here, that's a big deal in the baseball world in our area. He's a JUCO Hall of Fame coach. It's been a tough few days."

Frazier also appreciates the fraternity of players who played under Crowder.

"All the guys that played before us and the guys after us, it's been really refreshing to talk to all of those guys and reunite and reconnect to a lot of them," Frazier said. "It's just like old times. He sat that tone. He made that happen. It was pretty special."


Print Headline: Family has deep FS baseball roots

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