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Frank O’Rourke

Sport: Baseball

Born: November 28, 1893

Died: May 14, 1986

Town: Elizabeth

Francis James O’Rourke was born November 28, 1893 in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada and grew up in Elizabeth. He also spent time in Ohio and Pennsylvania as a boy. His date of birth and the family’s movement during his childhood is a bit murky. What is clear that Frank was a wiry infielder with quick feet, soft hands and a decent arm, and that he was playing semipro ball as a teenager. He had grown strong and faced adult competition while working in a Pennsylvania steel mill.

After signing his first minor-league contract in 1912, Frank moved quickly up baseball’s ladder. That June, his contract was purchased by the Boston Braves. He was the youngest player in the majors that season. He appeared in 61 games but was overmatched in all phases of the game. He spent the next four-plus seasons in the minors, working his way back to the big leagues with the Brooklyn Robins in 1917, where he played the last half of the season at second base.

Frank continued bouncing around baseball, finally establishing himself as a starting major leaguer in 1921 with the Washington Senators. He batted .234 but drove in 54 runs—not bad for a shortstop. He played for the Red Sox in 1922, the Tigers in 1924, 1925 and 1926. His second season in Detroit was a career year. Frank batted .293 with 88 runs and 57 RBIs.

Frank finished his career with the St. Louis Browns, playing for the team from 1927 to 1931, mostly at third base. He was a popular teammate, smart infielder and clutch hitter who made the most of his talents. Near the end of the 1931 season, the Browns asked him to become the player-manager of their top farm team, the Milwaukee Brewers. Frank never returned to the majors, but continued to be a player-manager in the minors into his mid-40s.

During World War II, Frank worked in the GM airplane plant in Linden, New Jersey and also did some scouting for the Cincinnati Reds. In 1952, he went to work for the Yankees, and was on their scouting staff for the next 33 years. During that time Frank signed New Jersey natives Al Downing, Johnny Kucks and Jack Cullen. At 91 he was likely the oldest scout in history. He lived in Elizabeth and was inducted into the New Jersey Sportswriters Hall of Fame in 1985. Frank passed away in Chatham in 1986.

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