Dec 30, 2015

Remembering Former Bronx Born Italian / American Player: Frank Malzone (1955-1966)

Frank James Malzone was born on February 28, 1930 in the Bronx, New York. He attended to Samuel Gompers High School on Southern Blvd. off 149th St in the 1940’s. Malzone planned to be an electrician if his baseball career didn't work out.

In 1947 the five foot ten, third baseman was spotted & signed, for $150 a month by the Boston Red Sox. He married his wife Amy while playing the minors at Oneonta, NY in 1949. They remained married until her death in 2006.

served two years of Military service, during the Korean War in the early fifties before getting to the major leagues. 

He was already 25 years old when he arrived in Boston for a 1955 cup of coffee with the Red Sox. Two years later, he was the Red Sox regular third baseman, and had a fantastic rookie season. He batted .292 (10th in the AL) while driving in a career high 103 runs (3rd in the AL). Malzone hit 15 HRs with 31 doubles five triples & posted a .323 on base % playing in 153 games. He made the All Star team, came in second to Tony Kubek in the Rookie of the Year voting & was seventh in the MVP voting as well. 

He won his first Gold Glove at third base, the first year the Award was issued. He also became the first player in modern baseball history, to lead his position in games played (153), putouts (151), assists (370), errors (25) fielding & double plays. On September 24th, 1957 he tied an MLB record making ten assists. 

In 1958 he followed up with another All Star season, batting .295 coming in second in the league with 185 hits. He hit 15 HRs with 30 doubles 87 RBIs while leading the league in games (154) & at bats (627). At third base he won his second Gold Glove, posting a .954 fielding %, leading the league in assists (378) games (154) & errors (27). 

 In 1959 he hit .280 having another All Star year, hitting a career high 19 HRs with 34 doubles (2nd in the AL) 169 hits (6th in the AL) & 92 RBIs (10th in the AL). Malzone won another Gold Glove in 1959, & was the last third baseman to win the award before Brooks Robinsons’ won an incredible 16 straight. 

Trivia: In the first of two All Star games of that year, he batted 7th & drove in a run with a double off the Dodgers, Don Drysdale.

Malzone also set another defensive record at the time for third baseman, as he led the league in double plays five straight seasons. As he entered the sixties he dropped in numbers the first two years of the decade. He helped a young Carl Yastrzemski make a transition in left field replacing Ted Williams.

Quotes: Carl Yaz- “When I first came to the big leagues in 1961, Frank was the guy who took me under his wing. I struggled when I first came up, and he took care of me and stayed with me. He was a real class guy, a very caring guy, and I owe him a lot. You aren’t going to find too many people like him.”

In 1962 had a career high 21 HRs with 95 RBIs & 20 doubles while batting .283. 
He returned to have a good 1963 season as well, batting .291 with 15 HRs & 71 RBIs. Malzone spent eleven seasons as the Red Sox third baseman, winning three Gold Gloves making six All Star teams. After the 1965 season Malzone was released, he would be replaced by future Met & another Bronx born player; Joe Foy. 

In his eleven seasons with the Red Sox the club never finished above third place & would finish seventh or worse in his final four years.

Malzone signed with the Los Angeles Angels in what would be his final season as a player. In 82 games he batted just .206 & retired at age 35. In his 12 year career Malzone hit .274 with 1486 hits 133 HRs, 239 doubles, 21 triples, 337 walks 728 RBIs & a .315 on base % in 1441 games. 

He posted a .955 career fielding average, making 196 errors in 4388 chances. He ranks in the top twenty in Red Sox history in hits, HRs, games played, doubles, runs, and RBIs. 

Retirement: After his playing days, Malzone was a scout for the Red Sox for 35 years, and a long time consultant for player development. He was elected to the Red Sox Hall of Fame in 1995. Malzone & his wife resided in Needham just outside of the city of Boston. 

 "As far as my personal achievements with the game I would say when you play ten full years and make the All-Star team eight times that is quite an accomplishment for myself. The only thing that I regret is that I never got to play in the post-season."

Malzone passed away, due to natural causes on December 30th 2015 at the age of 85.

     
**thanks to centerfieldmaz correspondent "Emergency Mike" for the update

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