Frank Lane

Frank C. Lane (February 1, 1896 – March 19, 1981) was an American executive in professional baseball, most notably serving as a general manager in Major League Baseball for the Chicago White Sox, St. Louis Cardinals, Cleveland Indians, Kansas City Athletics and Milwaukee Brewers.

Frank C. Lane
Bill McGill and Frank Lane.jpeg
Lane (right) shaking the hand of Bill McGill after he signed with the Chicago Packers in May 1962
Born:(1896-02-01)February 1, 1896
Cincinnati, Ohio, United States
Died:March 19, 1981(1981-03-19) (aged 85)
Dallas, Texas, United States
Career information
Position(s)Guard
Career history
As player
c. 1910–1919Cincinnati Celts
Military career
Allegiance United States
Service/branch United States Navy
Years of service1942–1946
Battles/warsWorld War II

BiographyEdit

Born in Cincinnati, Ohio, Lane's first involvement with professional sports came in American football, where he played guard for a number of "Ohio League" teams prior to the creation of the National Football League. After his attempt at playing professional baseball fell short, Lane shifted to officiating, serving as a referee in both football and basketball.

Baseball front officesEdit

In 1933 he was named as traveling secretary for the Cincinnati Reds, while continuing to spend his offseasons as an official. After later spending one season as general manager of the team's Durham, North Carolina minor league club, Lane was elevated to assistant general manager for the Reds under Warren Giles on November 17, 1936.

After the U.S. entered World War II, Lane joined the Navy and spent the next four years in the service before returning in 1946 as general manager of the Kansas City Blues, a top farm club of the New York Yankees.

One year in that position led to a two-year stretch as president of the minor league American Association. Lane then resigned that post in 1948 to become general manager of the White Sox. Over the next seven years, he would shape the team into a contender after nearly two decades of mediocrity. In seven years with the White Sox, he made 241 trades.[1]

After resigning in September 1955, Lane quickly found work again in St. Louis.[citation needed] His first controversial move was to introduce new home and away uniforms of which the pair of redbirds on a bat was removed in favor of only the name "Cardinals" in red script edged with navy blue.[2] In what he subsequently referred to as "the worst trade [he] ever made,"[3] Lane sent Bill Virdon, recipient of the previous season's National League Rookie of the Year Award, to the Pirates for Bobby Del Greco and Dick Littlefield on May 17, 1956.[4] As General Manager of the St. Louis Cardinals, he tried to trade popular superstar hitter Stan Musial to the Philadelphia Phillies for star pitcher Robin Roberts. When news of the proposed transaction was leaked to the radio, Cardinals' owner August Busch stopped the deal.[5]

Lane moved on to Cleveland in November 1957. While in Cleveland, Lane gained infamy by trading popular star slugger Rocky Colavito to the Detroit Tigers for excellent hitter Harvey Kuenn, resulting in the so-called "Curse of Colavito." He left Cleveland in January 1961 for an executive position with the Kansas City Athletics, but the combination of Lane and volatile owner Charlie Finley led to an early end to his employment just eight months later. The lingering feud between the two over compensation would result in a lawsuit that took over three years to settle.

Due to his uncertain contract status Lane was forced out of baseball during this period, but found employment on May 7, 1962 as general manager of the National Basketball Association's Chicago Zephyrs.

On January 8, 1965, Lane settled his lawsuit with Finley, accepting $113,000 plus the freedom to take another baseball front-office position. Early reports of his being part of an ownership group to buy the Boston Red Sox, as well as potentially serving as president of the Texas League, proved to be unfounded. Instead, the Baltimore Orioles hired him as a special assistant to general manager Lee MacPhail on March 7, serving primarily as a scout, a post he would hold for nearly six years.

Shortly before his 75th birthday, Lane was hired as general manager for the Milwaukee Brewers. He took advantage of the rain postponement of Game 2 of the 1971 World Series on October 10 to pull off his biggest trade with the Brewers which acquired George Scott, Jim Lonborg, Ken Brett, Billy Conigliaro, Joe Lahoud and Don Pavletich in a ten-player blockbuster that also sent Tommy Harper, Marty Pattin, Lew Krausse and minor-league outfielder Pat Skrable to the Red Sox.[6] Following that stint, he ended his career as a scout for both the California Angels and Texas Rangers.

Death and reputationEdit

Lane would gain fame (and sometimes infamy) for his many transactions,[7] earning nicknames such as "Trader Frank", "Frantic Frank", "Trader Lane" and "The Wheeler Dealer" for the more than 400 trades he made in his career, including 241 with the White Sox alone. Lane traded star players, such as Norm Cash, Rocky Colavito and Roger Maris, as well as future Hall of Famers Enos Slaughter, Red Schoendienst and Early Wynn.

Yet players were not the only people involved in Lane's transactions – in 1960, during his tenure with the Indians, he dealt manager Joe Gordon in exchange for Detroit Tigers skipper Jimmy Dykes.

He died in a Dallas, Texas nursing home at 85 years of age. In Bobby Bragan's book You Can't Hit the Ball With the Bat On Your Shoulder, Bragan wrote that he was asked by Commissioner Bowie Kuhn's office to represent Major League Baseball at the funeral. He was the lone baseball official to attend.

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Roger Maris: Baseball's Reluctant Hero, p.93, Tom Clavin and Danny Peary, Touchstone Books, Published by Simon & Schuster, New York, 2010, ISBN 978-1-4165-8928-0
  2. ^ "'Cardinals' to Be Lettered Across Road Uniforms," St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Sunday, March 4, 1956. Retrieved April 14, 2020
  3. ^ Richman, Milton. "Bill Virdon is shaping up real fine," United Press International (UPI), Monday, September 23, 1974. Retrieved February 26, 2016
  4. ^ Singer, Tom. "Pirates' all-time Top 5 in-season trades," MLB.com, Thursday, July 18, 2013. Retrieved April 14, 2020
  5. ^ Charlie Finley: The Outrageous Story of Baseball's Super Showman, p.39, G. Michael Green and Roger D. Launius. Walker Publishing Company, New York, 2010, ISBN 978-0-8027-1745-0
  6. ^ "Bosox-Brewers In Ten-Man Swap," United Press International (UPI), Sunday, October 10, 1971. Retrieved September 22, 2018
  7. ^ Neyer, Rob. Rob Neyer's Big Book of Baseball Blunders.

External linksEdit

Preceded by
Roy Hamey
American Association President
19471948
Succeeded by
Bruce Dudley
Preceded by
Leslie O'Connor
Chicago White Sox General Manager
19481955
Succeeded by
Chuck Comiskey/Johnny Rigney
Preceded by
Richard A. Meyer
St. Louis Cardinals General Manager
19551957
Succeeded by
Bing Devine
Preceded by
Hank Greenberg
Cleveland Indians General Manager
19571961
Succeeded by
Gabe Paul
Preceded by
Parke Carroll
Kansas City Athletics General Manager
1961
Succeeded by
Pat Friday
Preceded by
Marvin Milkes
Milwaukee Brewers General Manager
19701972
Succeeded by
Jim Wilson