Frankie Frisch

Position: Second baseman
Teams: New York Giants, 1919-1925; St. Louis Cardinals, 1927-1937
Manager: St. Louis Cardinals, 1933-1938; Pittsburgh Pirates, 1940-1946; Chicago Cubs, 1949-1951
Managerial Record: 1,138-1,078

Frankie Frisch was a football and baseball star at Fordham University, with a degree in chemistry and a competitive drive that made him a natural leader on the field. There could be only one leader on a team managed by John McGraw, but McGraw realized that the talents of “The Fordham Flash” could help the New York Giants. In 1919 Frisch joined the club, and by 1921 the Giants won the first of four straight pennants.

Frank Francis Frisch (1898-1973) was born in the Bronx and attended Fordham Prep before going to the university. He briefly left college during World War I to join the Student Army Training Corps. Back at school, Frankie learned how to play baseball under former New York Giants third baseman Art Devlin, Fordham’s baseball coach. Devlin tipped McGraw about Frankie, and when all reports were positive, Frisch was signed to a professional contract.

Frankie Frisch slides into first under Jack Bentley's tag in a 1925 spring game between Giant's regulars and yannigans.
Frankie Frisch slides into first under Jack Bentley's tag in a 1925
spring game between Giant's regulars and yannigans.

McGraw’s Giants won the World Series in 1921 and 1922, with Frisch hitting .300 and .471 in the two tournaments, and he captured the imagination of baseball fans with his slick fielding (he played third in 1921 and second in 1922) and his timely hitting. In 1923 he led the league with 223 hits, establishing himself as one of the great stars of the day.

The lively ball era began to produce terrific power numbers, but Frisch was not a slugger. He never hit more than a dozen home runs in a season, but hit over .300 13 times, including 11 in a row, from 1921 to 1931.

Frisch was an exceptional fielder. The New York Times called him “possibly the flashiest second baseman of any day” after one of the most talked-about trades of the time. Frank had a serious clash with McGraw and walked off the club in 1926. After suspending Frisch, McGraw traded him in 1927 to St. Louis for Rogers Hornsby, equally at odds with the St. Louis club. The fiery Frisch had finally worn out his welcome with McGraw, though the Flash later said, “I could have flopped as a ballplayer under any other teacher.”

Frisch had learned to win, and as second baseman of the famous “Gashouse Gang,” he appeared in four World Series, winning one in 1931, and leading the team to another in 1934, a year after becoming player-manager. Well-respected by his contemporaries, Frisch in 1931 won the first MVP Award in the National League, after a year that was not his best (a .311 average, 96 runs, 82 RBI, and a league-leading 28 steals). Frankie’s playing career lasted through the 1937 season, but he managed for 16 years, with St. Louis, Pittsburgh, and Chicago, winning 1,138 games.

Here are Frankie Frisch's major league totals:

.3162,3119,1121,5322,8804661381051,244 419

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