MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Ralph Jon Fritz, better known to long-time WCCO viewers as “R.J.,” has been selected for induction into the Minnesota Broadcasting Hall of Fame.
Fritz died in December 2017 after battling stomach cancer for more than two-and-a-half years.
Fritz was the sportscaster with a knack for shenanigans. He learned his love of sports growing up in Sleepy Eye, but the star basketball player kicked off his broadcasting career at Stillwater’s WAVN 1220-AM in 1958. He was just 19.
In 1968, he began his 40-year run at WCCO-TV. The small-town kid hit the big leagues. Fritz and fellow WCCO-TV sportscaster Mark Rosen formed the best tandem in town.
“He connected with people through the television screen,” Rosen said. “That’s why people gravitated towards him, because he’s like your neighbor. Just a guy you want to hang out with, play cribbage with and have a beer with.”
Fritz loved the outdoors, especially fishing. That passion was at the heart of his long-running show “Out ‘N’ About with R.J. Fritz.”
The Pavek Museum will induct Fritz into the hall of fame alongside WDIO’s Dennis Anderson, Patrick Reusse (of “Saturday Sports Talk” fame), and Charles “Chuck” Williams, most remembered for broadcasting local sports on KWNO in Winona for more than four decades.