Frank Frisch was born to German parents in Bronx, New York on September 9, 1898. He was a collegiate sports superstar, playing for Fordham University’s baseball, basketball, football and track teams. Nicknamed the “Fordham Flash,” Frisch would not finish his undergraduate career at Fordham. Instead, he contracted with the New York Giants in 1919.
The Giants placed him directly on the major league squad instead of seasoning him in the minors. In his first full season, Frisch hit .280 and drove in 77 runs to go along with many stolen bases. In 1921 his efforts would prove even better as Frisch batted .341 and stole 49 bases to lead the National League. He captured two more stolen base titles in 1927 and 1931.
Despite winning back-to-back World Series with the Giants (1921, 1922) and being named captain by manager John McGraw, Frisch’s time in New York came to an unceremonious end. After a Giant’s loss in the latter half of the 1926 season, the irascible McGraw berated Frisch in front of his teammates and Frankie left the team. He soon returned to the Giants, but his relationship with McGraw remained broken.
As a result, the Giants traded Frisch to the St. Louis Cardinals for Rogers Hornsby after the 1926 season. In 1927, Frisch, always known for his stellar fielding, set the record for most assists in a single season (643). He became a fixture in the legendary St. Louis “Gas House” gang. He won a Most Valuable Player (MVP) award with the Cardinals in 1931 while helping them capture the World Series in 1931 and 1934. In 1935 Frisch was selected for the All-Star Game for the third consecutive year. That annual event began in 1933.
Frisch retired after the 1937 season. In his nineteen-year career with the Giants and with the Cardinals as player-manager, he compiled an impressive lifetime batting average of .316 as a switch-hitter. He later managed the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Chicago Cubs. For the last seventeen years of his life, Frankie Frisch claimed Charlestown, Rhode Island as his home where he pursued his hobby of gardening. Unfortunately, he was killed in Maryland and died in Wilmington, Delaware on March 12, 1973 while returning to Rhode Island from Florida. He was seventy-four.
A great second baseman, Frank Frisch was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1947. As Yankee manager Joe McCarthy once said, “If I needed one player to do the job of winning the game I needed to win, that player would be Frank Frisch.” Frisch was returned to his native Bronx for burial in Woodlawn Cemetery.