Grave Story: Frank Trechock (1915-1989)

Here lies Frank Trechock, who had an extremely successful 1-game career – at the bat at least. In the field was a different matter. He played his one MLB game with the Washington Senators in 1937. Though his career was short, he made it from semipro baseball to the major leagues in the span of one season.

Frank Trechock was born on December 24, 1915 in Windber, Pa., the son of Polish immigrants. He attended New Brunswick High School and was part of a double-play combo with his brother Joe. After graduation the Brothers Trechock played for a number of semipro teams around New Jersey. He was invited to a New York-Penn League game by a friend, minor-leaguer Alex Sabo, and as Trechock played around on the field he happened to impress members of the Senators that were there. He was signed to join Trenton in 1937, but he instead was sent to a new team in a new league.

Source: The Courier News (Bridgewater, N.J.), November 3, 1937.

The Eastern Shore League had operated from 1922 until 1928 before folding. It reorganized as a Class-D league in 1937 with eight teams, and the Salisbury Indians was the Senators farm team. Salisbury was managed by former big-leaguer Jake Flowers and featured a Cuban battery of pitcher Jorge Comelas and Fermin “Mike” Guerra. Trechock, who had been playing for a New Jersey semi-pro team called the Boundbrook Bakelites at the start of the year, became the starting shortstop. He turned into one of the best players on the team, batting .338 for Salisbury with 19 home runs. He was among the league leaders in both categories. His defense left a lot to be desired with a sub-.900 fielding percentage, though. A versatile infielder, shortstop happened to be his worst position, and he had a tendency to overrun the ball and rush his throws. Salisbury already had players at second and third, so he was stuck at shortstop.

The Indians would win the league championship, in spite of one of the most severe penalties ever inflicted on a pro club. The team got off to a 21-5 start, but the league president ruled that one of its players, Robert Brady, was an “experienced player” by virtue of having signed a pro ball contract four years prior. The league had strict rules about the number of experienced players a team could have on a roster, so those 21 wins were forfeited, putting the Indians record at 0-26. The team went 59-11 the rest of the way to end up with a 59-37 record.

The Senators, meanwhile, were stumbling to a 6th-place finish and a 73-80 record, despite great seasons from infielders Cecil Travis and Buddy Lewis and a fair year from future Hall of Famer Al Simmons. In September 1937, Washington promoted several players from the Indians roster, including Guerra, Trechock, pitcher Joe Kohlman and second baseman Alex Lynn. Lynn, who hit .342 for Salisbury, played in his one and only MLB game on September 19 in Game 2 of a doubleheader against the White Sox. Trechock made his only appearance in Game 1.

Facing the Sox ace Ted Lyons, Trechock flew out to right in the second inning. He singled in the fourth inning for his first major-league hit and was forced at second. He singled again in the sixth and was erased on a double play, and he struck out in his final at-bat against Clint Brown. That left him with a .500 career batting average. His fielding was not as good. He committed errors on his first two chances with the ball, both in the second inning. The White Sox scored 3 unearned runs as a result of the poor fielding. To his credit, Trechock turned things around and played flawlessly the rest of the way, even turning a couple of double plays. Still, he ended up with 2 errors in 8 chances for a career .750 fielding percentage.

In one season, Trechock went from playing with the Bakelites of the Middlesex County Industrial League to the Senators of the American League. Unfortunately, the Cinderella story ends there. The Sens had a solid middle infield of Travis and Buddy Myer, so there was no room for Trechock in the majors. He played two seasons (1938-9) with the Charlotte Hornets of the Piedmont League and hit around .250 there. He was traded to the Minneapolis Millers and played there from 1940 until his deployment in the U.S. Army in 1943. He served in the South Pacific until 1946 and returned to the Millers.

Frank Trechock with the Millers. The “Kel” in the caption referred to legendary Millers manager Mike Kelley. Source, Star Tribune, May 2, 1946.

Trechock batted .290 for the Millers in 1946 and 1947 and showed some pretty good improvement at shortstop as well. He was traded to Jersey City in mid-season and ultimately played for four teams in 1948 before finishing off his minor-league career with three seasons in Buffalo in a part-time role. He retired after 1951 with 1,275 minor-league games under his belt. From the statistics that are available, he had 1,015 hits and a .260 batting average. Never a power hitter aside from his one season in Salisbury, he hit 42 homers in a 13-year minor-league career.

Trechock settled in Minneapolis, as so many former Millers did. Having visited Minneapolis a couple times, I completely understand, too. He did construction work after his retirement and later worked for the Metropolitan Waste Control Commission from 1967 until 1982. He also worked with youth at the Nokomis Heights Lutheran Church.

Frank Trechock died on January 16, 1989 from leukemia, less than a month after his 73rd birthday. He is buried at Fort Snelling National Cemetery in Minneapolis.

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