Fordham baseball will pay tribute to such legendary names as “The Fordham Flash” Frankie Frisch, iconic Dodgers broadcaster Vin Scully, famed owner of the Brooklyn Dodgers Walter O’Malley and Esteban Bellan, the first Latin player to wear a major league uniform, on Saturday, April 20, at Houlihan Park at Jack Coffey Field on the Rose Hill campus in the Bronx.
Fordham is proud to be the oldest and winningest Division I College Baseball program, having begun intercollegiate play in 1859, with more than 4,000 victories to its credit in its 154 history.
Prominent Fordham alumnus James J. Houlihan and head baseball coach Kevin Leighton will host “Baseball Alumni & Hall of Fame Plaque Day.” Plaques of Scully, Frisch, Bellan, Dan Gallagher, Jack Coffey, John Kieran and Ed Walsh – all enshrined in various Halls of Fame – will be unveiled at the dedication ceremony at 3:30 PM prior to the Fordham vs. George Washington game, first pitch at 4:00 PM. A recording of Scully’s dulcet tones welcoming fans to all home games will be played over the public address system: “And now, it’s time for Fordham Baseball,” exclaims Scully.
A pre-game barbecue will be held at 2:00 PM, complimentary for all former Fordham baseball players and relatives, and $10 for the general public. RSVP online here, or for more information call Ryan Kirwan at 646-312-8223 or e-mail at [email protected]. Admission for the Fordham vs. George Washington contest is free.
The rain date for the ceremony is May 11.
Biographical sketches of the honorees are below:
Frankie Frisch, The “Fordham Flash,” was an all-around athlete who jumped directly from college (1917-19) to the New York Giants, played on eight pennant-winners in 19 seasons. A fine switch-hitter, Frisch compiled a run of 11 straight .300 seasons and set single-season fielding records as a second baseman for chances and assists with the Cardinals in 1927. As player-manager with St. Louis, he instilled the rollicking all-out style of hard-nosed play that prompted sportswriters to tab the Cardinals The “Gashouse Gang.” He was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame by the BBWAA in 1947.
The iconic Vin Scully, who launched his career at Fordham’s WFUV Radio, is in his seventh decade as the Voice of the Dodgers, dating back to their days in Brooklyn starting in 1950. He began an unprecedented 64th season earlier this month. As recipient of the Ford Frick Award, the 1949 Fordham graduate was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame at Cooperstown in 1982. He has set a standard of play-by-play excellence in sports broadcasting followed by fellow Fordham/WFUV alumni including Mike Breen (Knicks), Michael Kay (Yankees), Bob Papa (Giants), Chris Carrino (Nets), Spero Dedes (Knicks) and Charlie Slowes (Nationals).
Esteban Bellan was the first Latin and first Cuban to play professional baseball in the United States. Bellan, along with his brother Domingo, came to the USA to study at St. John’s College (later known as Fordham Univ.), which was a common practice among wealthy Cuban-Catholic families. While there, Bellan played for the college’s Fordham Rose Hill Baseball Club. Bellan later played from 1869 to 1872 for the Troy Haymakers, which was the nickname for the Union club of Lansingburgh, New York. That team was to become a charter 1871 member of the National Association, the first professional league and forerunner of the National League. He was inducted into the Fordham University Athletics Hall of Fame in 1990.
Walter O’Malley was the owner of the Brooklyn/Los Angeles Dodgers from 1950-1979. He earned his law degree from Fordham Law in 1930 before serving as the Dodgers chief legal counsel when Jackie Robinson broke the racial color barrier in 1947. He is often referred to as one of the most influential sportsmen of the 20th century after he moved the Dodgers from Brooklyn to Los Angeles and helped coordinate the move of the New York Giants to San Francisco. O’Malley was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 2008.
Longtime Fordham Baseball coach Dan Gallagher, who won 518 games in his decorated 21-year career as head baseball coach. Included in his coaching achievements are seven league championships (MAAC – 3, Patriot League – 3, and Atlantic 10 – 1), four ECAC titles, and five NCAA Tournament berths. Gallagher was inducted into the American Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame earlier this year, joining the likes of Skip Bertman (LSU), Mike Martin (Florida State), and Mike Gillespie (University of California – Irvine).
John Kieran, a native New Yorker, graduated from Fordham College “cum laude” in 1912. His career as a sports editor of the New York Times spanned the period of 1915-1943, and he originated the column “Sport of the Times.” He then later worked for the New York Sun. Kieran later gained fame as the jug-eared, wide-eyed star of “Information Please,” a national radio and television question-and-answer program. It was in this role that Kieran showed that sportswriters’ knowledge was not simply confined to the press box and clubhouse. A fountain of information, Kieran wrote books on a variety of different subjects. He was awarded the National Baseball Hall of Fame’s J. G. Taylor Spink Award in 1973.
Former Fordham baseball coach Jack Coffey has the distinction of being the only player in baseball history to play with Babe Ruth and Ty Cobb in the same season (1918). Coffey was the baseball coach at Fordham for almost 50 years and was the graduate manager of athletics from 1926-1958. The football and baseball complex at his alma mater, Jack Coffey Field, is named in his honor.
“Big” Ed Walsh was one of the top pitchers in the first decade of the American League. He holds the record for lowest lifetime ERA with a career earned run average of 1.82. Walsh was inducted to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1946. Though lore from the turn of the 20th century credited Walsh with having attended Rose Hill, historians (and Walsh himself, in his biography) say that he was only on the campus for a total of two days, and never threw a pitch from the mound. Nonetheless a replica of his Cooperstown plaque will be permanently displayed.