Card: 1992 Nobody Beats The Wiz 50’s Yankees
Frank Michael Verdi was born on June 2, 1926, in Brooklyn, New York. His childhood spanned the years of the Great Depression. He grew up in Bedford-Stuyvesant, with three generations living in the same brownstone. A 1944 graduate of Brooklyn's Boys High School, Frank attended New York University. He served in the United States Navy during World War II. A son, Mike Verdi, was also a minor league manager.
Verdi accumulated 1,832 hits across 18 seasons playing minor-league baseball (1946-63) — but appeared in just one major-league contest. He played a single inning at shortstop for the Yankees in 1953 and never got to bat.
On Sunday. May 10, 1953, the Yankees were playing the Red Sox at Fenway Park. In the sixth inning, Joe Collins pinch hit for Rizzuto, the Yankee shortstop and leadoff man. Manager Casey Stengel called Verdi’s name, and the rookie entered the game at shortstop in the bottom of the sixth. The Red Sox were retired in order without a ball hit Verdi’s way. In the seventh inning, with two outs, six straight Yankees reached base and three runs were in with the Bronx Bombers taking a 5-3 lead. With the bases loaded, Frank was due up.
As he stepped into the batter’s box, the Red Sox made a pitching change, replacing Ellis Kinder with Ken Holcombe. Stengel countered the move by replacing Verdi with another rookie, Bill Renna, who had knocked 28 home runs in the minor leagues the year before. Just like that, his major league career was over. He was assigned to Triple-A Syracuse two days later when rosters had to be trimmed.
Verdi is perhaps most remembered for his 24 years of managing in the minor leagues and independent ball, in 12 different cities, over a period spanning 1961 to 1995. His teams included players such as Thurman Munson and Don Mattingly. His minor-league achievements earned him induction into the International League Hall of Fame.
Figuratively speaking, Frank gave his life to baseball. He almost did literally as well, taking a bullet to the head during a 1959 game in Havana, Cuba. As a player for the Rochester Red Wings, he was struck in the head by a stray bullet during a game against the Havana Sugar Kings. Verdi was standing in as the team's third base coach after the ejection of Rochester manager Cot Deal when shooting broke out in the stands. Verdi was still wearing the plastic lining in his baseball cap, in lieu of a batting helmet, and the lining deflected the bullet away from his head; it lodged in his shoulder and caused a minor wound.
Frank is part of the Military Service during Wartime Tour – go to the Next Stop
Frank is also part of the New York City Born Player Tour – Go to the Next Stop
Frank is also part of the New York Yankee Players Tour – Go To the Next Stop
See Verdi’s baseball cards at TCDB
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