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Staff file photo / From left, Greg Holder and Jim Frost contributed to the Warner Park softball concession and restroom building, top left, at the newly constructed fields near the Chattanooga Zoo. Warner Park's Jim Frost Stadium, the home of UTC softball since 1998, is only part of the impact Frost had on the sport in the Chattanooga area.

For many people, Jim Frost's legacy in the fastpitch softball universe is obvious: the stadium that bears his name at Warner Park in downtown Chattanooga.

However, those inside the sport say Frost, who died Thursday at the age of 79 due to complications from COVID-19, will be remembered for so much more.

"It's unmatched what he's done," coach Frank Reed, whose University of Tennessee at Chattanooga softball team has called Jim Frost Stadium home since the venue opened more than 20 years ago, said in a school release Saturday.

"His legacy is unparalleled to a lot of things people have done here for Chattanooga softball. Jim will never be forgotten for all he has done for this community through the game of softball. I can't imagine the game without him being involved."

Frost Stadium, originally called "The Field of 1,000 Dreams," has hosted the Southern Conference softball tournament 11 times, with UTC winning eight of those championships. It was also the site of the 2001 and 2002 SEC softball tournament. UTC's release noted that the stadium's first game, when the Mocs hosted Tennessee on April 20, 1998, drew a crowd of 3,521 with standing room factored into the number; its capacity of 3,500 is in the top five of NCAA Division I softball venues.

Frost's success as a businessman — Ooltewah-based Frost Cutlery is a multimillion dollar endeavor that employs more than 100 people — allowed him the opportunity to promote softball in the Chattanooga area and help the youth who played it through the legendary Frost Cutlery Falcons programs.

"Jim was a force and a personality bigger than the game but he was humble about his place in the game," veteran softball coach Steve Chattin said in a social media tribute to Frost.

"One could write about his place in the game. One could write of the teams he coached that finished multiple times in the top five in ASA or multiple times as NSA champs, or how he helped build the Tyner Recreation Complex and how he spearheaded Jim Frost Stadium at UTC.

"But, most importantly is the legacy he had on hundreds of thousands of players, parents and coaches that at one time competed under or against the Frost Cutlery Falcons banner. He could have taken the softball world by storm in 1989 just like the people who are making all the money today, but he told me, 'Steve, I just want to help kids. Softball is for fun and for the kids.'"

Gordon Lee High School softball coach Dana Mull, Reed's daughter and a former UTC player, said Frost's love of the game and kids was still strong in his final years.

"I've been able to coach a young Frost Falcons team over the past few years, and Jim was able to come out and watch several games," said Mull, whose Gordon Lee team this past fall added the 11th Georgia High School Association state title in program history. "He would take pictures with the kids and bought them uniforms. He was just so giving in the softball world and elsewhere.

"Playing at UTC, you always feel and see that connection. I'm thinking about the very first game that was played in it and how many people were there. It's really sad he's gone. He was such a great guy and had obviously such a big heart. I know Chattanooga is a hotbed for softball, and one major reason is Jim Frost."

Contact Lindsey Young at lyoung@timesfreepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @youngsports22.

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