Apr 23, 2011

Former Italian / American Manager: Frank Lucchesi

Frank Joseph Lucchesi was born on April 24, 1927 in San Francisco, California. The Italian American Lucchesi played minor league ball as an outfielder from 1945-1957 never making the bigs. He began a managerial career in the minors in 1951, going through 1969.

In 1970 he was hired as manager of the Philadelphia Phillies and won 73 games against 88 losses finishing 5th. The next two years were worse, the Phil’s finished last in 1971, and after going 26-50 in 1972 he was fired.

In 1975 he replaced Billy Martin in Texas leading a good Rangers team to a third place finish. In 1976 they finished 4th going 76-86 but showed promise for 1977. The Problem was Lucchesi was let go after going 31-31, although the Rangers finished second after his departure under Billy Hunter.

Drama & The Lenny Randle Ordeal: Earlier that spring, he & the team announced that Rookie Bump Wills (Maury Will’s son) was going to replace Lenny Randle at second base, even though Lucchesi praised Randle as the hardest working player in camp. Randle was furious that an unproven rookie was replacing him & announced he was leaving the team.

The two bashed each other in the media, "I wish they'd have let him go," said Lucchesi. "If he thinks I'm going to beg him to stay on this team, he's wrong. I'm sick of punks making $80,000 a year moaning and groaning about their situation." Randle approached Lucchesi to talk three days later, and after what started as a calm conversation, all hell broke loose.

Randle punched Lucchesi in the face knocking him down and then continued to hit him as he was down. Teammates rushed to stop Randle but damage was done, Lucchesi suffered three fractures to his cheekbone, a concussion, two broken ribs, and an injured back. The Rangers suspended Randle for a month without pay & he was traded to the Mets by the end of April. Lucchesi required plastic surgery & sued Randle.

He never accepted Randle’s apology, even 16 years later, Randle attempted to make up with Lucchesi in a Rangers alumni game, trying to kiss him on while on the field. Lucchesi raised his hand in disgust and refused to acknowledge him. The whole thing was unusual because Randle had never had any trouble before or after the incident in his career.

The whole mess led to Lucchesi soon being fired and never getting another chance to manage at the big league level. In the 1980’s he was back managing in the minors, had a brief stint as interim manager with the Cubs and coached third base for Texas again.

In his MLB career he was 316–399 as a manager. In the minors he was more successful, posting a 1,605-1,436 record in 23 seasons.

No comments: