Thursday, November 4, 2010

#2 Frank Crosetti, 3B Coach

Frank Crosetti played with the Yankees from 1932 to 1948 and was the team's 
third-base coach for the next 20 years. Nicknamed ''the Crow,'' Crosetti played for eight teams that won World Series titles and was teammates with Yankee legends such as Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig 
and Joe DiMaggio. The 5-foot, 10-inch Crosetti batted .245, hit 98 home runs 
and drove in 649 runs in 1,682 games in 17 seasons. He was an All-Star in 
1936 and 1939, but his best season might have been 1938, when his 757 plate 
appearances set a major league record for a 154-game season. He also led the 
American League with 27 stolen bases. He was the team's starting shortstop 
from 1932 through 1940, when Phil Rizzuto replaced him.

After retiring as a player, Crosetti coached Yankee greats such as Mickey 
Mantle and Roger Maris on teams that took part in 15 World Series.
''I couldn't rank Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio, Mantle, Maris and 
other great Yankee hitters,'' Crosetti told The Los Angeles Times in 1961. ''They played 
at different times, had different styles...." He said he had ''been asked to 
pick the best Yankee teams since I came up in 1932, but that can't be done 

Born Oct. 4, 1910, in San Francisco, Frank Peter Joseph Crosetti spent many 
of his formative years in Los Gatos near San Jose. His father raised vegetables on a 12-acre plot, while Crosetti and his brother spent their free time playing one-a-cat, a baseball-style game.
''We used the big end of the corncob as a ball,'' he said. ''We had a bunch 
of corncobs and when they dried they'd get hard, and we'd chop the big end 
off. For a bat, we'd get a board and whittle it down on one end to make a 

Crosetti's family moved to the North Beach area of San Francisco when he was 
in high school, but Crosetti was not a good student. He once skipped classes 
at Lowell High for two consecutive weeks and spent most of those days 
watching ballgames played by the San Francisco Seals of the Pacific Coast 

After dropping out of high school at the age of 16, Crosetti worked at a 
produce market before a friend asked if he was interested in going to Butte, 
Mont., to play semipro baseball. The two worked for a Montana power company 
by day and played baseball at night through the summer, then returned to San 
Francisco, where Crosetti played in several games a day at various parks in 
the region.

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The San Francisco Seals signed Crosetti in 1928 and he played three seasons for the team 
before joining the Yankees, a club that featured San Francisco native and future Hall of Famer Tony Lazzeri at second base. Joe DiMaggio, who was also from San Francisco and played for the Seals, had his contract purchased by the Yankees in 1935. The three players, all of whom were of Italian origin and none of whom were particularly loquacious, forged a friendship that began when a team executive instructed Lazzeri and Crosetti to drive DiMaggio down to spring training in St. Petersburg, Fla.

''Tony didn't talk much and DiMag didn't say a word. He just sat in the 
backseat and looked out the window,'' Crosetti told Newsday in 1991. ''Tony 
and I shared the driving. We would go two or three hours and then look at the 
other guy and say, 'Wanna drive?' and then we'd shift places. Sometimes that 
was all the conversation in the car. ''Finally, on about the third day, I said to Tony: 'Let's let the kid drive.' 
So he turned to him in the backseat and said, 'Wanna drive, kid?' And DiMag 
said, 'I don't know how.' I don't know if he was pulling our legs or not.''

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After Crosetti retired as a player, he became a fixture in the third-base 
coaching box. He once was reportedly about to succeed the legendary Casey 
Stengel as manager of the Yankees, but denied the story. ''I wouldn't manage a ballclub for any amount of money," he said. "I have the best job in baseball right here and my only ambition is to remain as 
third-base coach of the Yankees. Anyone who says different is nuts.''

Frank Crosetti became the third base coach for the Pilots in 1969, but was 
released after one season when manager Joe Schultz was fired. Crosetti vehemently denied that he asked to be released, and learned of his firing from a radio newscast. After leaving the Pilots, Frank would coach for the Minnesota Twins in 1970 and again in 1971.

In retirement, Crosetti was a frequent visitor to the Yankee clubhouse when the team made trips to Oakland. During one of his visits, he told a New York Daily News reporter that Babe Ruth's legendary "called shot" home run against the Chicago Cubs in the 1932 World Series never happened. Legend has it that Ruth pointed to the outfield fence before he hit the homer. ''I've been asked this a million times and he did not point,'' Crosetti said. "The next day, it was all in the papers. He sat next to me in the dugout and said, 'If the writers want to say I pointed, let 'em.'

''That was the tip-off, right there." What happened was, the Cubs were getting  on him and he had two strikes on him. So he put his finger up in front of his face and what he meant was, 'I have one strike left.'
''And then it happened that on the next pitch, he hit a home run. But he didn't point.''

Frank unfortunately died at the age of 91 due to complications from a fall in Stockton, California. He is entombed in Holy Cross Catholic Cemetery in Colma, CA.

information borrowed from and inspired by Los Angeles Times and Wikipedia

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