Monday, March 24, 2014

Herman Franks (Manager of 1965-1968 SF Giants)

When you are hired by owner Horace Stoneham there are a couple of things you need to know and at least one you will find out. The first being, do you know the ins and outs of baseball. If so-called experts were brought in to grill you in an interview to see just how much you claim to know versus the bullshit in your resume, could you pass the test? Second, would be, does a so-called expert recommend you? And finally, certainly listed last but not the least bit important is CAN YOU BE HORACE'S DRINKING BUDDY?

Herman Franks answered these questions and then some.

I got a hold of something entitled, They Were There, and lo and behold it was about Herman Franks. I will try to set this up to the best of my ability based on the knowledge brought forth in a couple of articles. To be honest, there is a smile on my face likened to that of a slit watermelon.

When asked where he was when Bobby Thomson hit his "Shot Heard 'Round the World" Franks replied, "Doing something for Durocher" as he was Leo's bench coach for the '51 Giants.

As told to Ed Attanasio, This Great Game:
On his role in the Bobby Thomson home run: "They say that I stole Brooklyn's signs that day and I've never admitted to anything. And I never will. There's been a lot of talk about it since 1951. People don't ever get tired of talking about it. I must have talked to this writer (Prager) more than 50 times. Prager researched the hell out of that story, let me tell you. (Gee, he tells us this much, at least.) I read things in there I didn't know. Sal Yvars has blabbed all over the place, but no one else has talked. (Yvars was the backup catcher. Franks supposedly was stationed in the Giants' center field clubhouse at the Polo Grounds. He would steal the opposing catcher's signs through a telescope and relayed them through Yvars who was stationed in the bullpen who could then share his information with the coaches and hitters accordingly.)

Look, it's an easy assumption to think Franks did such a thing. He was Leo Durocher's bench coach who was always running errands anyway. So why not go out to the outer reaches of the Polo Grounds and make yourself useful. He was the perfect gobe-mouches, schlemiel, pigeon for the job. And, don't forget, he was a drinking buddy of Horace Stoneham. That he was able to help out in the "Shot Heard 'Round the World" made him a lot of money with the Giants as long as Horace Stoneham was the owner.

And, in the same article Franks claims the best team he ever managed was the 1965 San Francisco Giants except he didn't have a shortstop or a second baseman who couldn't turn a double-play. "We tried out a bunch of shortstops and second basemen, but we couldn't find anyone to fill the holes there. Damn, I always thought Hal Lanier was a slick fielding shortstop and Tito Fuentes was said to be very quick with getting rid of the ball from second base.

Here is a list of shortstops and second-basemen from 1965-1968: Dick Schofield, Jose Pagan, Lanier, Fuentes, Bob Schroder, Don Mason...And the positions were interchangeable. Damn, their GM was Chub Feeney, Chub, couldn't you have made a move with another major league team? I mean Schofield was way past his prime by the team the Giants acquired him.

Also to consider is that Matty Alou was traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates after the 1965 season for a pitcher named Joe Gibbon. In '66 Matty Alou led the National League in batting.
Then there was the Orlando Cepeda trade to St. Louis for Ray Sadecki. And the following year Cepeda not only won the MVP award but led the Redbirds to a World Series title. So you see, Chub Feeney was as much of an achilles heel to the all-time drinking buddy of Horace Stoneham.

This makes me even prouder of the current Giants' staff since they got us two World Series titles. And now just around the corner,here comes 2014!

Kevin Marquez