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Cubs historical sleuthing: Frank Frisch edition

The Cubs manager got some gifts from his friends on the New York Giants.

Photo by WM C. Greene/Sporting News via Getty Images via Getty Images

Getty Images says:

Chairman of Frankie Frisch day, Jack Weiner, Frankie a new giant Television set, to be bought and given to Frisch manager of the Chicago Cubs circa 1949.

Frank Frisch was a Hall of Fame player for the New York Giants and St. Louis Cardinals from 1919-37. He also managed the Cardinals from 1933-38, most of those years as a player-manager, and as part of the so-called “Gashouse Gang” helped lead St. Louis to a World Series title in 1934. Then he spent seven years managing the Pirates with less success, and by the time the Cubs hired him to replace Charlie Grimm as manager 50 games into the 1949 season, both the Cubs and Frisch were pretty well exhausted of talent and victories.

Frisch was just 51, and although the Getty Images paragraph above is kind of disjointed grammatically, it does describe what we’re seeing. It was the Cubs’ first visit to New York after Frisch was hired as Cubs manager and his former Giants mates and others in the Giants organization showered him with gifts. Jack Weiner was a theatrical agent in New York at the time who must have either had a Giants connection or was a friend of Frisch’s, in order to essentially be the emcee of this event, which happened Sunday, July 24, 1949.

According to the Tribune, Frisch’s haul included:

Set of matched luggage, portable television, rod, reel and trick bait, wrist watch, coffee master, portable radio, traveling, mixing bar, electric floor washer, tornado fan, television console

You can see most of that haul in the photo. And the Tribune also reported:

In his acceptance speech, Frisch said he might be able to get himself pitched off the premises so that he would have time to lug the tokens to his New Rochelle home before boarding a train to Chicago. But Uncle Frank didn’t have a chance to arouse the umpires.

That’s likely because the Cubs, who weren’t a very good team in 1949, swept a doubleheader from the Giants that afternoon, winning the opener 5-3 and the nightcap 6-1. Despite the sweep, the Cubs finished the day in last place in the National League, 20 games out of first place. They would finish last, 61-93, 36 games behind the pennant-winning Phillies, their second straight 90+ loss season.

Frisch managed the Cubs to another poor season in 1950 and was fired 80 games into the 1951 season with the Cubs 10 games under .500 at 35-45. He was replaced by Phil Cavarretta. The Cubs would not hire another manager from outside their organization until Leo Durocher — who, oddly enough, was the Giants manager that day in 1949.

These sorts of days, when managers and players were showered with various gifts from teams, were fairly common back in the day when baseball people didn’t make millions of dollars more than the folks in the stands. They faded away after the 1960s.