The tradition-rich Logansport baseball program is staying in-house of sorts in regards to its next baseball coach.
Dan Frye was hired as the new head coach at Monday’s LCSC board meeting. Frye is a former assistant coach who was a star player back in the heyday of the program in the 1980s.
“I think it’s an awesome responsibility to be the head coach of the Logansport baseball program, a program that I hold in high regard,” Frye said. “I think it’s probably one of the best if not the best program in the state of Indiana.”
Frye is taking over the reins of the program from Jim Turner Jr., who retired following the Berries winning their second Class 4A sectional title in the class sports era this past spring. Turner retired at the age of 62 after winning 343 games at an average of 15.6 wins per season in 22 seasons at the helm.
For the first time in 58 years, there won’t be a Turner in the Berries’ dugout next season.
“I think it was really important to our committee to find somebody who knew the history and the status of the program,” Logansport athletic director Brian Strong said. “When you’re replacing a gentleman like Jim Turner and that name of Turner, the name Frye is very synonymous with Logansport baseball. Danny is going to come in and really make sure that history and tradition is important to our players. I know that was important to our interview committee and those folks that had the charge of finding the next baseball coach.”
Frye, 49, is a 1988 LHS grad. As one of the Frye boys, he played on some great Berries teams. If not for an injury to Mike Farrell — now a scout for the Kansas City Royals — in 1987, the Berries could have added to their state championship haul. They’ve won a total of four state titles — second most to LaPorte for the most for a Class 4A baseball program.
“Mike was a year ahead of us. Mike graduated in 1987,” Frye said. “But I think there were a number of years there that Logansport fell short. I think all the players and coaches and probably even fans felt that we probably should have won state championships that actually happened. I had never won a state championship when I was in high school. We were ranked No. 1 in the state many times those years. But we fell short.
“There were some disappointing losses because anything short of a state championship in those years was failure. My senior year in ’88, Mr. Jones [LHS principal Matt Jones] was a freshman and was a major part of our team playing first base and pitching.”
Frye and his twin brother Dennis went on to play as full-ride scholarship players at Indiana State University. Their older brother Paul Frye was also a star player for the Berries in the ’80s and went on to play at ISU. He is now the principal at Peru High School and Dennis also works for Peru schools.
Dan Frye played shortstop at ISU and Dennis played catcher, first base and outfield.
All three Frye brothers were drafted in the MLB Draft.
“[Paul] was drafted by the Montreal Expos out of college after his sophomore year, which he was redshirted as freshman due to injury. That year I believe was ’86, they went to the College World Series and after that season he was drafted by the Montreal Expos and went and played some baseball in the Minor Leagues,” Frye said. “Dennis and I were drafted out of high school by the Los Angeles Dodgers. Both of us went to Indiana State and played baseball. After my senior year I was drafted by the Cincinnati Reds in 1992 and played in the Minor Leagues from 1992-95.”
Frye was a top prospect as a third baseman for the Reds and played for the Princeton Reds, the Charleston Wheelers and the Winston-Salem Spirits. He once hit the bull with a home run while playing against the Durham Bulls.
He was an assistant coach for the Berries under Turner Jr. for several years until the graduation of his son Clayton and stepson Dustin Clements, both star players for a 20-win team, in 2014. Clayton is now a detective with the Logansport Police Department and Clements resides in Nashville, Tennessee.
Frye is now the assistant chief of police with the LPD.
“He’ll be classified as a lay coach. That’s fine,” Strong said. “I think there was a day that was really important, but we’re finding out we’ve got some very successful lay coaches in our high school programs. Many of those people relate to kids just as well as people that are teaching. Danny really feels confident he can devote the time that’s necessary and we have no reason to believe that won’t be the case.”
“I spoke with the chief [Rob Smith] about time and he knows how much time it takes to be the head coach with this program,” Frye said. “I know how much time it takes. Hopefully most of the time will be after hours. If there are some more serious types of calls that may pull me away from practice or whatnot, I’ll have to put some attention towards that. But I don’t foresee an issue at this point.”
Turner Jr. didn’t leave the cupboard bare as there were six players who started in a sectional game who will return. In addition, the Logansport Babe Ruth League has had a successful run with the 13s and 15s both advancing to the Ohio Valley Regional this year, as did the Logan 12s in Cal Ripken baseball.
“It’s Logansport baseball and Logansport athletics in general, we always have some athletes running around here and if we get them up there and hopefully we can fine tune them and the average players we can make a little better and the better players we can make a little better and we’ll see what happens,” Frye said.
There’s been a national trend moving to travel ball, which Logansport is involved with a bit now. Frye is looking to make the local leagues stronger.
“I would hope we can create a competitive atmosphere at the Little League level, at the Babe Ruth level. It’s quite expensive to go play travel baseball,” he said. “If I had it the way I like it, it would be just the way it was when I played. You got prepared at the Little League level to go play at the Babe Ruth, and it was all in line to get you prepared to play Logansport Berry baseball as a high school baseball player. I don’t know which way it’s going to go yet. I’d like to increase the numbers one way or another and I don’t know how that’s going to get done yet. We need to increase the numbers, we might have some clinics where kids can come ask me questions. We will work on certain drills, running bases, fundamentals of baseball, even to the point where we might have some instruction for coaches. I want to be available for them to ask me how certain things are done, at least give them the opportunity.
“The same thing I would like to do at the Babe Ruth level is maybe hold some clinics, give them the opportunity. I’ll work with them on hitting. I love hitting. I love teaching hitting. My idea on hitting is just one idea: I’m not a cookie cutter type of hitting coach, everybody is a little different. It’s my job to figure out what your strengths are and try to get you to become a better hitter.”
Frye fondly recalls his playing days.
“Jim Turner Sr. that I played for, Butch Jones I played for. Those were great years of my life and I hope I can make some kids as thankful to play baseball for the Logansport program as I was,” he said. “I knew I was challenged early. It helped me in college, it prepared me for college baseball and it prepared me for an opportunity in pro ball. I had Jim Turner, Butch Jones and Rich Wild. I can still remember taking ground balls on the Berry Bowl floor with Rich Wild. And coach Jones helped me with the baseball program but also develop me a little bit better as a man that way as well.”