On Wednesday afternoon, The Fan's Dan (Common Man) Cole broke into the patter of his early-afternoon show with the news that longtime WCCO-TV sportscaster Ralph Jon Fritz had died. Cole's regular guest, WCCO's Mark Rosen, said that he knew Fritz had died but wasn't ready to talk about it on the air,
Later in the day, Rosen shared his thoughts about Fritz during a newscast on Ch. 4.
"He was so genuine and never got caught up in the hype of this business, the glamour of it," Rosen said of Fritz, who grew up in the small town of Sleepy Eye, Minn.
Twin Cities media and sports fans turned to social media to share thoughts and memories of Fritz, who died of cancer at age 78.
I had the good fortune to cross paths with @WCCO TV's Ralph Jon Fritz as a young producer. Back then, we did a lot of sports team promotion and let's face it, that dept. was a fun one to visit often. One day I snapped this. Shows his spirit well. RIP RJ. pic.twitter.com/yFQYAgvBWJ— ��Susan Bordson�� (@susanbordson) December 6, 2017
Sad to hear of the passing of Ralph Jon Fritz. Grew up watching him cover sports a @WCCO. Got to meet him a couple times on opening fishing weekends as a kid; always super nice and took time to talk. Class act.— Jim Gooden (@Jim_Gooden) December 7, 2017
RJ Fritz was a mentor for me during my first ever internship. He was so kind and shared so much knowledge. Helped solidify that I wanted to do this. May your memory forever be a blessing, RJ.— Seth Kaplan (@Seth_Kaplan) December 6, 2017
So sad to hear about the passing of Ralph Jon Fritz wonderful to see that great video again of him on @wcco - such a great guy, always a twinkle in his eye - he will be missed— esme murphy (@esmemurphy) December 6, 2017
Sad to hear Ralph Jon Fritz has passed. I worked with RJ at WCCO-TV Sports from 1981-90 and have wonderful memories of our times together. pic.twitter.com/ZQfGoZypSy— Rick Olson (@rickolson77) December 7, 2017
Ralph Jon Fritz...I raise my glass to you. An incredible storyteller, taken from us to cancer. Thank you.— KRWC Radio (@KRWCSports) December 7, 2017
Ralph Jon Fritz was a consummate reporter. I always loved watching him. RIP.— Chris Coleman (@mayorcoleman) December 7, 2017
Sad news @WCCO Ralph Jon Fritz passed away today, 26 years ago today he is with Dave Moore on Dave's final newscast @esmemurphy @pavekmuseum @WCCORosen https://t.co/w0LYgiknAq pic.twitter.com/wcTUaIt5WP— tcmedianow (@tcmedianow) December 6, 2017
Thank you for all the kind words on the passing of my long time colleague and best friend, RJ Fritz. He was a gifted story-teller who never lost that small town charm from Sleepy Eye. What a blessing it's been to have him in my life all these years.— Mark Rosen (@WCCORosen) December 6, 2017
Here's the story on Fritz's death from Wednesday night's Ch. 4 news.