Monday, December 21, 2009

Frank Frisch, the Fordham Flash

Somehow I got away from taking a look at the books in my baseball library. Two months since the last one! Sheesh.

The book that was randomly selected is J. Roy Stockton's book Frank Frisch, the Fordham Flash. Besides being a great tongue twister, it's also the only book-length (auto)biography on the Hall of Famer.

Frisch was an infielder for the St. Louis Cardinals and the New York Giants. In part due to his talent and in part due to his timing, he is the only non-Yankee to have appeared in eight World Series. John McGraw's astute eye for talent led him to signing the young Frisch out of Fordham. In 1921, his third season with the Giants, Frisch became a starter and the Giants won their first of four straight National League pennants and two straight World Series.

Frisch had a falling out with McGraw and, before the 1927 season, McGraw traded Frisch and Jimmy Ring to the St. Louis Cardinals for Rogers Hornsby. Led by Frisch and Sunny Jim Bottomley, the Cardinals took the NL pennant in 1928, 1930 and 1931, winning the World Series in 1931. Frisch became player/manager in 1933 and led "The Gashouse Gang" to a World Championship in 1934. After retiring as a player, he managed the Pirates in the 1940's and the Cubs in the 1950's with little success.

I'd love to see a guy perform like Frisch in the majors today. A lifetime .316 hitter, he stole over 400 bases but my favorite numbers about him were his walks and strikeouts. 728 walks, 272 strikeouts. He struck out 20 or more times in a season just twice. That's six games for Mark Reynolds.

Stockton, the author, was a St. Louis sportswriter, and as can be expected, treats Frisch with kid gloves in this book. Even still, as the only book on this Hall of Famer, it's definitely worthwhile to have. It is also somewhat accessible if you don't want to buy a copy. A check on Worldcat shows almost eighty libraries still holding it despite it being published in 1962.

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