May 10, 2015

Former Italian / American Player & Manager: Frank Quilici (1965-1975)

Francis Ralpgh Quilici was born May 11th 1939 in Chicago, Illinois. After high school Quilici attended Loras College as well as Western Michigan University. The six foot one right hand hittiing infielder was signed by the Minnesota Twins in 1961.

He made to the big leagues in 1965 as a backup second baseman to Jerry Kindall on the Twins AL pennant team. The 1965 Twins won 102 games, losing the World Series to the Los Angeles Dodgers of Sandy Koufax & Don Drysdale in their primes. At second base Kindall hit just .196 & Quilici .208. Obviously, both players were in the line up for their defense.

Post Season: By the time the World Series came around, Quilici took over as the main second baseman. In Game #1 he had a pair of hits, including an RBI single off Drysdale. In Game #2 he drew a pair of walks as he did in Game #6. Overall he went 4-20 with four walks & two runs scored. Quilici would play in the 1970 ALCS loss to the Baltimore Orioles, going hitless in two at bats.

After a five year playing career, Quilici batted .214 with 5 HRs 23 doubles six triples & 53 RBIs in 405 games.

After his playing days he became a coach with the Twins in 1971. In 1972 he replaced Bill Rigney as manager & was the youngest skipper in the league at the time. He led the Twins to three third place finishes through 1975, the year Twins great Harmon Killebrew retired.

Trivia: Quilici was a pall bearer at Killebrew's funeral in 2011, along with Rod Carew, Paul Molitor, Tony Oliva, Ron Gardenhire, Joe Nathan, Justin Morneau & Michael Cuddyer..

Those were tough years for the Twins as ownership didn't support the team with much spending. Overall Quilici did a fine job posting a 280-287 record.

The following season he became a Twins radio broadcaster, where he worked in 1976-1977, 1980-1982 & again in 1987 when the Twins won their first World Series.

Quilici was often seen at Twins events & at various charitable causes. His wife Lila worked as a critical care nurse for a pioneer transplant surgeon in Houston, Texas.  In 2013 he himself received a kidney transplant & is reportedly doing well.

Trivia: Quilici was originally from Chicago, his parents met at a bakery on the South side & married. 

Whenever the Twins came to Chicago, playing the White Sox, his mother would make Italian sausages, put them in her classic sauce & put them on good Italian bread from the neighborhood. His father would bring it all to the ballpark for both teams & even the broadcasters.

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