Card: 1953 St. Louis Browns Issue (Autographed)
Frank Mancuso grew up the youngest of seven children in Houston, Texas and followed his brother Gus Mancuso, also a catcher, into pro baseball.
In December 1942, Frank volunteered to join the Army’s 542nd Paratroopers that summer. On his fifth and final practice jump at Fort Benning, Georgia, the recruit broke his left leg and injured his back. He endured several operations while spending five months in an Army hospital.
Recalling the accident for sportswriter William J. McGoogan, who was covering the Browns during spring training in 1944, Frank explained he was making his last practice jump from one of three planes flying low in a “V” formation. When the green light came on signaling him to jump, he inadvertently tumbled out the plane’s door head-first instead of feet-first. As a result, his left leg got tangled in the parachute. Unable to free his leg, Mancuso landed flat on his back in some small trees. The unfortunate landing broke his leg just below the knee, and his back — which had given him problems for years — was injured. He was discharged in February 1944.
However, Mancuso defied the odds and returned to pro baseball that year with the St. Louis Browns. A part of his injury was an unfortunate condition for a catcher, wherein looking straight up caused him to lose the flow of oxygen to the brain and pass out. As a result, he was never responsible for catching pop-ups. Still, he played in 88 games his rookie year, 1944, and went 2 for 3 in the World Series against the St. Louis Cardinals, as the Browns won their only pennant.
In 1945, Mancuso saw regular playing time as the Browns starting catcher and hit .268. He played in Venezuela in 1946 and was the first professional player to hit 10 homers in a 42-game season in that country. That record stood for more than 8 years.
After his baseball career ended, Mancuso returned to his hometown of Houston and served on its City Council for 30 years. He died at age 89 in August 2007.
Frank is part of the Military Service during Wartime Tour – go to the Next Stop
See all of Frank’s baseball cards at TCDB
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