Baseball legend Franks dies at 95

Deseret News

Published: Wednesday, April 1 2009 12:00 a.m. MDT

Herman Franks

Michael Brandy, Deseret News

Herman Franks, who was one of the first native Utahns to play Major League baseball before beginning a lengthy career as a Major League coach and manager, died Monday at his Salt Lake City home.

Franks died of congestive organ failure. He was 95.

Franks was born in Price, Utah, on Jan. 14, 1914, and was a star athlete at East High School. He attended the University of Utah before signing with the Hollywood Stars of the Pacific Coast League in 1932 at age 18. He went on to play for six seasons as a Major League catcher, spending time with the St. Louis Cardinals (1939), Brooklyn Dodgers (1940-41), Philadelphia Athletics (1947-48) and New York Giants (1949). He also spent 31/2 years of military service with the U.S. Navy during World War II.

He served as a coach under famed manager Leo Durocher on the Giants' National League pennant-winning teams of 1951 — made famous by Bobby Thomson's "Shot Heard 'Round the World" — and 1954 and their '54 World Series championship team.

Franks served as a Major League scout and coach for several seasons, was general manager of the old Salt Lake Bees of the PCL, and spent seven seasons as a Major League manager with the San Francisco Giants (1965-68) and Chicago Cubs (1977-79). His Giants' teams finished second in the National League for four straight seasons and never won fewer than 88 games. His overall record as a Major League manager was 605-521.

He was elected to the Utah Sports Hall of Fame in 1974, and a sports complex near Liberty Park in Salt Lake City bears his name.

Franks is survived by his wife, Amneris, and three children: Dan, Herman Jr. and Cyndi Wright.

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