Ken Frank Gets Win #755
Ken Frank likes to remind me of our first real meeting. It was the spring of 1980 and I was covering a Toms River South baseball game on what was a warm afternoon.
I arrived at the game with a beach chair, notebook and tape recorder, set up somewhere down the leftfield line so I could get some sun and watched his Indians win a baseball game.
It was probably somewhere around his 60th career victory as he was in his third season after replacing his good friend Al Fantuzzi, who had left the high school ranks for Ocean County College.
Last night Toms River South beat Southern Regional 7-1 on a field that was named after Frank several years ago. I was there to report on it, although my days of bringing a beach chair to sit in are long over. Much has changed in the 32 seasons since that first professional encounter but one thing remains the same: Ken Frank’s baseball teams continue to win games and last night’s was one for the books.
Behind the masterful pitching of John Leiter and a big 3-run homer from Andrew Hourigan the Indians overcame a shaky start to give their coach his 755th career victory and make him the winningest coach in New Jersey High School history.
Leiter, the nephew of former major leaguer pitchers Al & Mark was superb after a rough first inning and tossed a 7-hitter with 12 strikeouts. Hourigan’s blast in the 5th ironically hit the sign in centerfield that says Ken Frank Baseball Stadium and from that point on it was just a matter of time before the celebration would begin.
Afterwards longtime assistant coach Mitch Powitz, a former standout player at South asked me to say a few words to begin a post-game ceremony on the field before several hundred supporters. I said the milestone was great but the real testament to what Ken Frank had built was all of those who were in attendance.
A FAMILY AFFAIR
There were many ex-players, parents whose sons wore the maroon and white, admirers, friends and of course family members. Family has always come first for the Jersey City native, who got to celebrate last night’s record-breaking victory with his wife Ceil, four daughters and younger brother Bill…who earlier in the day won his 484th career game as Toms River East surprised Jackson. While not on the field, certainly looking down with a big smile on his face was Kenny’s first and more memorable coach….Bill Frank Sr.
755 and counting. Ken Frank is in the record books and it’s where he belongs.