Few people have won more World Series championships than Frank Crosetti. Born in the baseball hotbed of San Francisco, Crosetti went on to earn 17 World Series rings, all of which were with the New York Yankees. From a long career as a player to an even longer career as a coach, Frank Crosetti lived a rich life in baseball. This is his story.
Frank Peter Joseph Crosetti was born to Italian immigrants on October 4, 1910 in San Francisco, California. Suffering from poor health as a toddler, his family moved to better climates in Santa Clara and Los Gatos before returning to San Francisco in time for him to start high school. Never much of a student, Frank Crosetti once skipped two straight weeks of school to watch the San Francisco Seals play. He dropped out of Lowell High School at 16.
He spent his time playing for the Butte Mining League in Montana before signing with the San Francisco Seals. However, the Seals deemed him too small so team executive secretary George Putnam sent bottles of milk to Crosetti’s house every day. As a result, Frank Crosetti gained ten pounds and joined his hometown team. He first caught the major league’s eye by hitting a home run against Pittsburgh Pirate’s Joe Dawson in an exhibition game on March 21, 1928.
Playing third base that first season, Crosetti hit .248. Playing shortstop the next two years, Crosetti’s batting average improved to .314 in 1929 and .334 in 1930. In addition to his .334 batting average, Frank Crosetti hit 27 home runs, stole 18 bases and scored 171 runs, leading the league. The Yankees took notice and signed him, costing them three players and $75,000. However, they wanted him to have more seasoning and kept him in San Francisco for another year. After the 1931 season, Frank Crosetti joined the New York Yankees and the major leagues.
When Frank Crosetti joined the Yankees, Babe Ruth was reaching the twilight of his career and Lou Gehrig was at the peak of his. The Yankees were about to dominate the major leagues in a way that is rare in professional sports. As a rookie, Crosetti hit five home runs while averaging .214. The Yankees swept the Cubs in the World Series that years but Crosetti struggled, averaging a dismal .133.
The next three years were rough for the Yankees who struggled to return to the Fall Classic. However, not all was lost as Crosetti found his place in the Yankees lineup. In those years, he never batted below .253 and hit 8 home runs.
The 1936 season was special for Frank Crosetti as he was named an All Star for the first time and the Yankees won the first of four straight World Series. Crosetti batted .288, slammed 15 home runs and drove in 78 scores. He redeemed himself in the Fall Classic, averaging .269, collecting seven hits and driving in three runs. The next two years, Crosetti led the league in strikeouts with 105 and 97 respectively. However, he still managed to hit .263 in 1938. He enjoyed one of the greatest thrills of his professional career in the 1938 World Series by providing three saved runs in the opening game against the Cubs.
Frank Crosetti was named an All Star for the second and final time in 1939, averaging .233, slamming ten home runs and driving in 56 scores for the World Series champions. However, he was atrocious in that year’s Fall Classic, batting just .063 and collecting just one hit in 18 plate appearances. Despite his overall poor performance in the 1939 World Series, Crosetti did catch the final out to complete the sweep.
Frank Crosetti’s numbers dipped considerably the next two years. In 1940, he batted just .194 and hit four home runs while appearing in 145 games. In 1941, he was hurt for much of the year and only appeared in 50 games. As a result of his ineffectiveness, Crosetti did not appear in any of the World Series games against the Dodgers that year. Instead, he watched as his teammates celebrated their first World Series victory over a team they would meet in the Fall Classic time and again.
Though his numbers improved the following year (.242 and four home runs), Frank Crosetti was left out of the All Star Game because nine Yankees already represented the club. The Yankees made the World Series that year, losing to the Cardinals in five games. In the third game of the series, Crosetti was playing third base when he shoved umpire Bill Summers over a dispute. As a result, Frank Crosetti was fined $250 and suspended for the first 30 days of the 1943 season.
The 1943 season began disastrously for Frank Crosetti. His father was struck and killed by a car in February of that year and during his time of bereavement as well as suspension, Crosetti came down with the flu just days before he was supposed to return to the Yankees. When he returned, it was clear that the virus had taken its toll on his aging body. He only batted .233 and hit just two home runs in 95 games.
However, Frank Crosetti recovered just in time for the World Series. In a rematch with Saint Louis, Frank Crosetti averaged .278 and collected five hits as the Yankees won the World Series in five games. It would be his final World Series as a player. In the final five years of Frank Crosetti’s playing career, he hit just nine home runs but averaged better than .285 twice. Though the Yankees won the World Series again in 1947, Frank Cosetti did not participate having spent much of the season as either a coach or on the inactive list. He retired as a player after the 1948 season but his journey in the game of baseball was far from over as he was hired to be a Yankee coach the following year.
Beginning in 1949, Frank Crosetti began a two decade long career as a third base coach. During his time as the Yankee’s third base coach, Crosetti waved in more than 16,000 players from third base while becoming widely known as a tough-minded coach who was not afraid to tell the truth, no matter how painful. His work ethic was second to none and was the first to arrive and the last to leave the team facility.
Along the way, Crosetti became known as small-time author. The Yankees called upon Crosetti to write a 12-page instruction manual for young players just joining the organization and in 1966 Crosetti penned a book titled Frank Crosetti’s Secrets of Baserunning and Infield Play. Throughout his coaching career, Frank Crosetti repeatedly rebuffed offers for managerial jobs with other organizations as well as rumors that he was going to take over the Yankees.
By 1968, with nine more World Series titles under his belt, Frank Crosetti longed to return to West Coast and submitted a six-page letter of resignation from the New York Yankees. He spent 1969 coaching the Seattle Pilots and the 1970 and 1971 seasons coaching the Minnesota Twins. However, he wasn’t quite finished with the game that he loved and by 1972 was coaching St. Mary’s High School in Stockton, California to an undefeated season. He passed away on February 11, 2002.