Tuesday, March 31, 2009
Former Cubs and Giants manager Herman Franks has died at the age of 95. Franks was manager of the Cubs from 1977 - 1979. He had decent years, with the team around the .500 mark each season. His best year in Chicago was his first, 1977, a season in which the Cubs got out of the gate quickly and had a 8.5 game lead in late June. But Bruce Sutter got hurt and was lost for a while and the team went south in a hurry. They ended the season in 4th place, 20 games out of first with a 81-81 record. But it was a fun season.
When he was managing the team, Franks was already a very rich man, having reaped the benefits of many real estate deals in the San Francisco area. So he wasn't there for the money, but for the game. He managed with a sort of "who cares, lets take a risk, I don't care if you fire me" attitude. It often paid off for the Cubs. But eventually the players tired of his attitude and he lost the ballclub. He quit in 1979 with a week left in the season, basically saying "I don't need this anymore."
He returned to the team a GM for a short while in 1981 during the transition between the Wrigley ownership and the Tribune taking over.
He is the second Cubs manager to die in the past few weeks, with Whitey Lockman passing on March 17. I would suggest to Jim Marshall, who served as Cubs skipper between Lockman and Franks, that he make sure all of his affairs are in order.