Frank Lucchesi, who was the Phillies manager when they moved from Connie Mack Stadium to Veterans Stadium, died Saturday. He was 92 years old.
Mr. Lucchesi was a career minor-league player before spending 19 years as a minor-league manager, including 14 seasons in the Phillies’ system. He finally got his big-league break in September of 1969 when the Phillies hired him to be their manager in 1970.
“I’m not making any predictions,” Lucchesi said at his news conference after being hired. “But let me say this: I think there’s only one man who was more optimistic than Frank Lucchesi. That was General Custer at Little Bighorn, who told his men ‘Don’t take any prisoners.’”
The Phillies improved by 10 wins in Mr. Lucchesi’s first year. Mr. Lucchesi constructed an opening-day lineup that year with two rookies making their big-league debut: second baseman Denny Doyle and shortstop Larry Bowa.
“He gave me the confidence I needed in my rookie year, especially when I was struggling,” said Bowa, who played for Lucchesi in the minors. “ Without Frank as my manager, I wouldn’t have had a major league career.”
Mr. Lucchesi spent so much time in the Phillies’ system that longtime Daily News columnist Stan Hochman wrote in 1969 that Mr. Lucchesi has “red pinstrpes on his pajamas.” Mr. Lucchesi was fired during the 1972 season and finished with a 166-233 record as Phillies manager.
“Right now, I’m hurt,” Mr. Lucchesi said as he wept after being fired. “But I don’t have red blood in my veins. I have Phillies blood.”
Mr. Lucchesi later managed the Texas Rangers and Chicago Cubs. He replaced the fiery Billy Martin as Rangers manager during the 1975 season and had his own blow-up with a player two years later when a spring-training fight with Lenny Randle sent Mr. Lucchesi to the hospital with a broken jaw.
He grew up in San Francisco and resided near Dallas until his death. He is survived by his wife Cathy, daughters Fran and Karen and son Bryan.