Sunday, April 13, 2008

Remembering a guy who remembered Babe Ruth

Frank Walsh was a quiet man who covered the Tampa Bay Rays from a seat in the back row of the Tropicana Field press box for the Northeast Neighborhood News of St. Petersburg.

Rays manager Joe Maddon wouldn’t start of a post-game press conference until Frank made it down the two flights of stairs to the clubhouse. They two had a unique relationship, talking more about literature than pitch counts.

Frank loved baseball. His columns centered more on the quirks and poetry of the game than the wins and loses. Frank had a knack for seeing things that weren’t always on the surface.

His absence at the beginning of spring training didn’t go unnoticed and word soon made its way around Al Lang Field that Frank had cancer. The cancer took him March 27, and he has been missed ever since.

Frank lived to be 79 and was a link to St. Pete’s great baseball tradition.

He used to visit the area when he was a child and stayed at the same hotel as the New York Yankees. Frank remembered riding an elevator with Lou Gehrig and was surprised by Gehrig’s choice of clothes – a green shirt and blue slacks.

An unusual color pattern for the 1930s, Frank said.

He also told he best Babe Ruth story I ever heard.

Frank was sitting with some friends in a St. Pete bar a few years ago when one of his friends commented about a photo hanging on the wall of Ruth and a little boy.

“I wonder what ever happened to that kid,” Frank’s friend said.

“You’re drinking with him,” Frank replied.

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