Frank Lucchesi, a San Francisco native who grew up in North Beach and managed three major-league teams, died Saturday in Colleyville, Texas. He was 92.
Considered a fiery but colorful manager, Lucchesi played his first baseball for the Salesian Boys Club and graduated from Galileo High School. He said in a 1970 Chronicle interview that he got more publicity for playing on Galileo’s basketball team.
“I got to play all of one game,” Lucchesi said, “and we won it 29-24, and I scored 19 of the points. I made headlines with that one, but never for baseball.”
Listed at 5-foot-7 and 170 pounds, Lucchesi never played in the majors and seemed destined to be a career minor-league manager. He began playing in the minors in 1945 and got his first managing gig in 1951 in Medford, Ore., when he was 24.
Lucchesi got his big break in 1970, his first of three seasons with the Phillies, and managed three more years with the Rangers after replacing Billy Martin. Lucchesi was an interim manager the final weeks of the Cubs’ 1987 season after Gene Michael was fired.
With the Rangers, Lucchesi got in a fight with infielder Lenny Randle, who was upset with his playing time, and Lucchesi was hospitalized with a broken jaw and concussion. Randle was suspended, fined and later traded.
Photo: Tony Gutierrez / Associated Press 2018
Lucchesi won several titles as a manager in the Phillies’ farm system. He said he didn’t apply for the team’s big-league job in 1970. “I figured it they wanted me, they’d let me know, and they did,” he said.
Lucchesi had his share of differences with umpires, and the stories are legendary. After one of his ejections, he went outside the stadium and climbed a light tower to watch the game. Another ejection came in the third inning on “Frank Lucchesi Night.” Another time, he objected to umpires by forming sand castles at home plate.
Lucchesi’s managing record in the majors was 316-399. He is survived by his wife Cathy, daughters Fran and Karen and son Bryan.