Confident. Charming. Charismatic. Comical. Those words pop into Pam Frisella’s head when she thinks of her late husband, Danny Frisella ’63. Serra High School’s Frisella Field was dedicated to Danny in 1979. The larger-than-life baseball star left an indelible impression on those whom he met throughout his life. Although his life was tragically cut short, Danny’s legacy lives on and his lessons of courage and determination inspire the Serra community to this day.
“Danny had a magnetic personality and he was crazy-funny,” said Pam, the current vice mayor of Foster City. “He was a person who attracted people. He was so positive and he inspired me to ensure that his legacy would continue.”
On March 5, Pam visited her husband’s alma mater to tell Danny’s story to members of the current Serra baseball team. After spending his high school years at Serra, Danny became a Major League Baseball pitcher who played for the New York Mets, Atlanta Braves, San Diego Padres, St. Louis Cardinals and Milwaukee Brewers.
“It’s important for our players to know the history of Frisella Stadium and to know who Danny Frisella was,” said Serra Head Baseball Coach Craig Gianinno. “It was great to have Pam back on campus to talk about the history and tradition of the program. Danny’s story is inspirational. Our players loved hearing about his life.”
Pam’s talk was part of the Chapel Series, where players meet once a week to pray and focus on their spirituality during the playing season.
“I was hoping that my talk would instill in our current players a sense of pride to wear the Serra uniform,” Pam noted. “There are many young men would love to wear that uniform but never get a chance. Danny went on to the big leagues, but he always talked about how proud he was to play at Serra.”
On New Year’s Day in 1977, tragedy struck when the Frisellas were in Arizona for spring training. Danny and a friend spent the afternoon riding in a dune buggy. The vehicle suddenly flipped in the sand and Danny was killed instantly. Pam became a single mom left to raise 3-year-old Jason and baby Daniel, who was not yet born.
“I still choke up when I talk about it, and it’s been 35 years,” Pam noted. “When something happens to you that young, it impacts the rest of your life. Daniel was born on his dad’s 31st birthday, March 4. He just turned 35 years old this year.”
During those 35 years, Serra High School became a vital part of Pam’s world. She was instrumental in rebuilding Frisella Stadium. Pam and friends Pete Jensen, Rick Bianchina, Bill Coates, Bob Maccari, Rich Jefferies and many Class of ’63 alums spent long hours under the blazing hot sun building the field with numerous community members. The group raised $100,000 for the extensive project. Pam said that visiting the Serra campus a few weeks ago was “like coming home.”
“I really felt a part of the baseball program when I entered the chapel,” she added. “Craig is an amazing human being. He has taken it upon himself to bring Danny’s name back into conversation with these players. It means a great deal to me that he is doing that. It makes me very proud.”