|Subject: FRANK LUCCHESI (1927-2019) -- FOND MEMORIES OF A FIRST CLASS BASEBALL MAN
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Date Posted: Sunday, June 09, 05:21:06pm
In reply to:
Dead at 92
's message, "Frank Lucchesi, Baseball player, manager, coach" on Sunday, June 09, 12:08:20pm
When someone passes away, you remember the good times.
With me, there were two incredibly wonderful and heart-warming memories when it comes to Frank Joseph Lucchesi, who was 92 when he died Saturday.
Lucchesi’s managerial record certainly wasn’t eye-popping. He was 316-399 as manager of the Philadelphia Phillies, Texas Rangers and Chicago Cubs off and on from 1970 to 1987.
But it was Frank Lucchesi, the person, that I remember the most. On April 20, 1976, he was managing the Rangers and they’d lost to the Indians, 9-1, at Cleveland Stadium. As a writer for The Elyria Chronicle-Telegram, I’d spent a lot of time interviewing Indians manager Frank Robinson and his players…but I still took the time to see if I could get any quotes from the Rangers’ lockerroom. The Ranger players and news media were all long gone…but Frank Lucchesi was still in his managers’ office. I sort of stuck my head into his office and said something like, “Mr. Lucchesi, I realize this game was lopsided and that you probably don’t have time to talk with me."
But he DID. He insisted that I interview him….so much so that he grabbed a chair and slammed it onto the floor. He might’ve said, “Have a seat.” I took him up on his offer…and he was simply amazing. His team had just lost a 9-1 and yet the way he talked about that game, you’d think his team had WON, 9-1. It’s a first class memory of Frank Lucchesi that I’ll never forget. This was someone who simply loved baseball. He paid his dues by playing at least 13 years in the minors (1945-57). And he’d managed in the minors for some 17 years before getting hired by the Phillies in 1970. He was very superstitious when it came to his visits with his pitchers. Whether it was walking to the pitcher’s mound…and from the pitcher’s mound back to the dugout, he ALWAYS made sure that he would NEVER step on the baseline.
Frank Lucchesi also had an excellent working relationship with major league baseball’s umpires. After a 1974 Ranger game when he was a coach, he told me how he’d been ejected from a recent game…and about a letter he received from Commissioner Bowie Kuhn's office. Lunches was told that he was fined for the ejection, which was standard operating procedure. However, sometimes the MLB higher-ups will suspend those who’ve been ejected…but not this time. Why? Because the umpire who ejected Lucchesi submitted in his report that Lucchesi had a very good history of working with umpires…worked hard to keep his players from being ejected…and that it wasn’t like Lucchesi to even GET ejected. Thus, the umpire recommended that Lucchesi not be suspended…and he wasn’t.
Sadly, Frank Lucchesi was the victim of a horrible assault by Ranger infielder Lenny Randle during spring training season in 1977. When Randle bellyached to the news media about being benched in favor of Bump Wills, Lucchesi, then the Rangers manager, stood his ground by telling the news media: “I’m sick and tired of punks making $80,000 a year moaning and groaning about their situation.” A few days later, Randle and Lucchesi got into a heated argument before an exhibition game that turned brutal. While still in civilian clothes, Lucchesi was punched by Randle three or four times. Ranger teammate Bert Campaneris had to pull Randle away from Lucchesi.
Lunchessi suffered a concussion and several fractured facial bones. He would need reconstructive surgery. Randle was fined $10,000, suspended without $9,000 pay for a month and traded to the Mets. Lucchesi would later sue Randle for $200,000, claiming the incident led to Lucchesi being later fired by the Rangers.
Many of Frank Lucchesi’s ex-player eulogized him. Ex-Ranger player/General manager Tom Grieve noted: “Frank was #1, first and foremost a man who admired and loved his family. He was a baseball man through and through. He spent his whole life in baseball and always displayed a passion and a love for the game. As a manager, he loved his players and wanted them to succeed. He was the only manager who gave me a chance to play every day, so I have a very special feeling for him.”
Ex-player and manager Larry Bowa recalled: “He gave me the confidence I needed in my rookie year, especially when I was struggling. Without Frank as my manager, I wouldn’t have had a major league career.”
Frank Lucchesi was inducted into the Texas Sports Hall Of Fame in 1988.
For more on this breaking story..
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