The Frontier League has announced that former Evansville Otters manager, Greg Jelks died of a heart attack while on a flight from U.S. to Sydney, Australia early Friday morning. He was 55.

Born and raised in Centre, Alabama, Jelks served as the Otters manager from 2002 until 2006 where he led the team to three appearances in the League Championship series in 2003, 2004, and 2006 where they swept the Chillicothe Paints for the team's first league title. A feat they wouldn't repeat until the 2016 season.

Following his run with the Otters, Jelks went on to manage the Slippery Rock Sliders in 2007 and the Washington Wild Things in 2008.

Jelks moved to Australia in 1993 to play for the Perth Heat after eight years in the Majors where spent time in the systems of both the Philadelphia Phillies and the St. Louis Cardinals and eventually became an official Australian citizen where he played for the Australian National Team in the 1998 Baseball World Cup, the 1999 Intercontinental Cup, and the 2000 Olympics. He also served on staff for the nation's 2006 World Baseball Classic.

The news of Jelks death has led to an outpouring of condolences particularly from the Perth community in Australia where Jelks had become a star during his time with the team.

Lachy Dale, chief executive of Baseball Western Australia said the following of Jelk in an interview with Perth's Comment News:

“Greg Jelks changed the game of baseball in WA and put it on the map...He was integral to the success of the Perth Heat and WA baseball over the past 23 years and many people will still remember the days of watching the famous 44 play at Parry Field during the 90s...A true gentleman of the game, Greg will be sadly missed by the baseball community but his legacy will forever live on.”

Steve Tashler, Deputy Commissioner of the Frontier League also spoke fondly of Jelks in a press release to local media:

“Greg was a tremendous influence on hundreds of ballplayers during his time in the Frontier League...He brought an upbeat, infectious personality to the field and truly loved teaching the game of baseball.”

According to Australia's Joondalup Times, Jelks suffered the heart attack while flying back to Australia after visiting his mother in Alabama and could not be woken up when the plane landed in Sydney. Our condolences to his family and friends, including those within the Evansville Otters organization.

[Source: Frontier League Press Release / Perth Comment News / Joondalup Times]

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