Frank Malzone, the legendary Boston Red Sox third baseman from the 1950s and 1960s, passed away Tuesday morning at the age of 85 according to an announcement Tuesday on Twitter by Red Sox broadcaster Jerry Remy. This was also confirmed via e-mail from his grandson, John Malzone. The Bronx, New York native was a 1947 graduate of Samuel Gompers High School. After playing for their varsity during his last two years at the school, he was spotted by the longtime bird dog scout, Cy Phillips.
“I never gave a thought to professional baseball until this bird dog scout, Cy Phillips, recommended me to the Red Sox,” Malzone told author Chaz Scoggins in the book, “Game of My Life Boston Red Sox: Memorable Stories of Red Sox Baseball.”
“He asked me if I would be interested in playing pro ball, and I said: ‘Yes, why not? I’d love to.’ You should have seen the expression on my dad’s face when the Red Sox offered me $150 a month. He didn’t know you could get paid for playing baseball.”
After playing four seasons in their minor league system, he served two years in the Korean War that caused him to miss the 1952 and 1953 seasons. Upon his return, the Red Sox jumped him to their top farm club at Triple-A in Louisville, Kentucky. His .310 average in 1955 with Louisville impressed the Red Sox enough to give him his first taste of the majors, calling him up for 20 at-bats at the end of the season.
By 1957, he cemented his position at their third baseman, finishing second to Tony Kubek in the 1957 American League Rookie of the Year Voting. He played virtually every game at the hot corner for the next nine seasons, and by the time he finished his tenure with the Red Sox in 1965, he earned six All-Star selections and three Gold Gloves. He capped his big league career by playing one more season with the California Angels in 1966.
Malzone spent 35 years scouting for the Red Sox and continued to work with them after he retired from scouting in player development. He lived in Needham, Massachusetts, just outside of Boston and made frequent public appearances on behalf of the club. Despite playing in an era where the Red Sox never made the playoffs, Malzone cherished his entire professional career.
“The whole 11 years I was in the big leagues, I enjoyed every minute of it,” he told Scoggins. “I wish I had got a chance to play in the postseason. I guess I was 10 years too early, because I would have gotten to play in two World Series: ’67 and ’75.”