Thursday, December 11, 2008

#161 Frank Baumann

Frank Baumann by you.
"Yeah, I'm hatless", Frank Baumann seems to say. "Big whoop. Wanna make somethin' of it?" A quick check of the pitcher's vitals shows that he has at least 40 pounds on me, I don't want to make something of it. I'm trying to decipher the scrawlings in ink on the card front. It looks like someone serial numbered this card themselves: 09 of 14. There's also a 38, which seems to have been his jersey number with the White Sox (1960-1964). I have no idea what is written on the photo: "OH HO"?

In 1952, Frank Baumann (pronounced BOW-men) was a bonus baby, signing with the Red Sox for $90,000 and receiving the nickname "Beau" from owner Tom Yawkey. Early on in his career, he was touted as "Herb Score with control", lofty praise to be sure. After an excellent 10-1 record and 2.55 ERA for AA Louisville in his second pro season, Frank spent all of 1954 serving in the military as part of the Korean War effort. He debuted with the BoSox in 1955 as a 21-year-old, and made sporadic appearances for the club over the next four years. He finally gained a foothold in 1959 and started 10 of the 26 games in which he pitched, winning six and losing four with a fair-to-middling 4.05 ERA.

Frank changed Sox in 1960 thanks to an offseason trade to the Windy City. He had an undefined role on the pitching staff, which speaks greatly to his versatility. With the White Sox the lefty racked up double-digits in both starts and games finished for three consecutive years, including his great 1960 campaign, when he went 13-6 and led the league with a 2.67 ERA. Shockingly, Baumann went on to top the A.L. in 1961 by allowing the most earned runs, thanks to the 249 hits he yielded in 187 and two-thirds innings. His earned run average more than doubled to 5.61. He would rebound nicely the next year in an increasingly bullpen-focused role. With 30 of his 40 appearances coming in relief, Frank pitched to a 3.38 ERA. He saw much less action in the following two seasons, and his ERA again jumped, from 3.04 to 6.19. At that point, the Pale Hose shipped him across town to the Cubs for reserve catcher Jimmie Schaffer. 1965 was the southpaw's final season in the majors, as he gave up three runs in three and two-thirds innings and even visited the minors for the first time since 1958.

Since his retirement, Baumann has kept busy in his native St. Louis as a salesman, an ice rink manager, and an employee of the Missouri State Lottery Commission.

Fun fact: Frank earned a win in relief in his major league debut on July 31, 1955. Leading off the ninth inning of the nightcap to a doubleheader, Jimmy Piersall hit a walkoff home run to deliver the victory for the rookie hurler.
Frank Baumann (back) by you.

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