Wheelchair Bound Frizzell An Amazing Coach

Thomas Frizzell Wheelchair Photo MassasoitBy LOU PAVLOVICH, JR.
Editor/Collegiate Baseball

The roadblocks of life can stop many. But highly successful Head Coach Tom Frizzell of Massasoit Community College (Brockton, Mass.) is living proof that never giving up, even after being paralyzed from the waist down, is absolutely crucial.

Now in his 25th season as head coach, the 65-year-old skipper is believed to be the only coach in college baseball history to lead a team from a wheelchair to a national championship as he directed the Warriors to a NJCAA Division II national title in 1993.

He has led Massasoit to three NJCAA Division II World Series and two trips to the NJCAA Division III World Series while compiling a 678-304 record entering the 2015 season.

He was paralyzed during a horrible accident. As a 27-year-old, he had earned his Master’s Degree and was a bright, young administrator at Davis School in Brockton, Mass.

On Nov. 1, 1977 at about 7:30 p.m., he was opening up a parent counseling meeting. At the time, he was standing next to a cinder block wall.

Unknown to him, a heavy set woman was leaning against a second block wall behind him which gave way. That wall crashed into the wall directly behind Frizzell which fell on top of him and severely damaged his spinal cord. He became paralyzed from the waist down.

It was later determined that neither cinder block wall had any concrete inside to fill the hollow blocks – only sand.

Frizzell would now endure a life in a wheelchair as it took eight months of rehabilitation and soul searching before he could get back to work.

Little did he know that life would turn for the better. He eventually decided to teach as a Professor of Business with his specialty being sports marketing at Massasoit C.C.

Frizzell had a huge background in baseball prior to the accident, and many knew his passion for the sport.

One day in 1986, Massasoit Head Coach Billy Mitchell asked Frizzell if he would consider working with his kids on the baseball team.

“Initially, I was very hesitant,” said Frizzell.

“I told Billy that I couldn’t walk. But Billy told me that he knew I played baseball and had a lot to share with the kids. I went to a few practices. For a year, I showed up periodically with the feeling that I didn’t have much to offer these kids.

“Later, I became more involved and actually became an assistant coach. The kids were extremely supportive of my handicap and only wanted to learn more about the game of baseball. I worked with infielders and hitters. It became a great thing to do for me in addition to my teaching responsibilities as a full professor.”

After the 1990 season, Mitchell took another job at a different institution which left the Massasoit job open.

Frizzell, who had now been assistant for three years with the Warriors, applied for the job but had no idea whether administrators would take him seriously or not.

“I was granted an interview, and I was asked point blank whether it would be difficult for me to recruit players to play since I was confined to a wheelchair. I explained that I had been heavily involved in recruiting. My philosophy was to recruit the parents and tell them that I couldn’t offer their son a lot of money in the way of scholarship help, but I would be available seven days a week since I was a Professor of Business. I was almost always in my office except when teaching classes. That was an important selling point about our program. It was comforting to parents to know that I was available much of the time.

“A lot of coaches at junior colleges are part time and aren’t easy to get in touch with. I also did not go to the houses of recruits. I asked them, along with their parents, to come to my office which had a much better setting. I also explained that I had learned all the ropes of this program through Coach Mitchell for the past three years and was well aware of what needed to be done to keep the baseball program on a high level.

“Ultimately I struck a deal with the Athletics Director that if I didn’t win, I would resign. So he agreed, and the rest is history.”

Frizzell said his first year as head coach was one he will never forget.

“We whipped off a 32-9 record that year. Two years later, we won the NJCAA Division II national championship. Then in 1995, we finished fourth in the nation at the World Series. After switching to NJCAA Division III, we went to the World Series two times with fourth and third place national finishes.”

To read more about the amazing Tom Frizzell, purchase the May 1, 2015 edition of Collegiate Baseball or subscribe by CLICKING HERE. It explains how he can still throw four rounds of batting practice, how his players help him when problems come up with his wheelchair, tasteless comments he has received, why he was ejected from a game, how he has coached third base from time to time and how his team pulls off the double suicide squeeze play.