FRANK FRANCIS FRISCH
(The Fordham Flash)
Position - Second Base
BORN September 9, 1898 Queens, New York
DIED March 12, 1973 Wilmington, Delaware
BURIED Woodlawn Cemetery, Bronx, New York
Joe McCarty, who won eight pennants as manager of the New York Yankees, said of Frank Frisch: "If I needed one player to do the job of winning the game I needed to win, that player would be Frank Frisch."
He did not graduate from Fordham University. After an illustrious college career as a football, basketball, and baseball player (mostly as shortstop), he left Fordham University before graduation and went directly to the New York Giants in 1919. He always regretted this decision to leave school. Later in retirement, Frank liked to quote his chemistry professor, who when asked if he remembered a former Fordham student by the name of Frank Frisch, answered: "Yes, indeed, I remember Frisch, he was one of the best students in my class."
He played for John McGraw as his first big league manager. Described as tough but fair, McGraw was considered by Frisch to be a great manager. However, they would often disagree and this lead to his departure from the Giants. He played some shortstop and third base with the Giants but mostly played second base, a great clutch hitter, and driven to win. He was cocky but not arrogant. During those eight years, the Giants won four consecutive pennants and two World Series.
Bill Terry came to the New York team a few years after Frank Frisch. Initially recruited as a pitcher, he was converted to a first baseman and became one of the great hitters of the game. He was the last National League player to bat over .400 (1930). He and the Flash became lifelong friends.
Frank Frisch was traded to the St. Louis Cardinals in 1927, for Rogers Hornsby. The Old Flash became the player manager and leader of the "Gashouse Gang". This team consisted of players like Dizzy and Paul Dean, Pepper Martin, Ducky Medwick, Leo Durocher, Rip Collins, and others. As a team, they were a psychological unit, characters and aggressive, but with great innate baseball skill. They knew how to win and have fun.
One of the greatest seasons was 1934. Frank Frisch was manager and played second base. Dizzy and Paul Dean won 49 games between them. Dizzy 30-7 and Daffy 19-11. The World Series against the Detroit Tigers was a classic, with pitching, hitting, base running, brawls, and a little humor. Frisch and Dean were the most quoted sport heroes of that season.
I was there with my father as guests of Frank Frisch for the fourth game of the 1934 World Series. The Cardinals were ahead two games to one. Old Sportsmans' Park was at capacity and my recollection is that we stood most of the game. Dizzy Dean entered the game as a pinch runner and tried to break up a double-play. Dizzy came in high and was struck in the head and knocked unconscious by shortstop Billy Rogell's relay throw. The Cardinals lost and the series was tied. The next morning, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch headline read: "Dizzy's head x-rays show nothing." There is remaining controversy if Dean entered the game on his own or on the orders of Frisch.
Fortunately, Dean was not seriously injured and pitched the next day but lost. Paul Dean saved the series by winning the sixth game. Jerome Dean came back to win the seventh and finale game for the World Series title. The Cardinals, the town, the game, and baseball have never been the same. Great Cardinal teams have come and gone but there will never be another Fordham Flash and the Gas House Gang.
Frank Frisch played with the Cardinals until 1937. He participated in eight World Series with an overall batting average of .294. During 19 major league seasons, he batted .316. He was the National League Most Valuable Player in 1931. He participated in the first and four additional All Start Games. He was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1947, which Frank described as his greatest thrill and memory.
He managed the Cardinals from 1933 through 1938, the Pittsburgh Pirates 1940-1946, and the Chicago Cubs 1949-1951.
He later was a very successful baseball announcer and analyst. During World War II, he traveled extensively entertaining the troops as a representative of the USO.
He died March 12, 1973, and is buried in Bronx, New York, not far from his birthplace. [You can view his grave stone at this site.]
Major League Baseball included Frank Frisch as one of eight candidates for second base on the All Century Baseball Team ( www.majorleaguebaseball.com ).
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