Frank Thomas Zak
- Bats Right, Throws Right
- Height 5' 10", Weight 150 lb.
- High School Passaic High School
- Debut April 21, 1944
- Final Game June 10, 1946
- Born February 22, 1922 in Passaic, NJ USA
- Died February 6, 1972 in Passaic, NJ USA
Frankie Zak played only 123 games in the major leagues but made the All-Star team as a rookie in 1944 when he wasn't even the regular shortstop on the Pittsburgh Pirates. He played nine years in professional baseball, hitting a grand total of two home runs, both in his second season.
Zak debuted with the 1941 Tarboro Orioles, hitting .255 with 15 RBI. In 1942, the 20-year-old moved up to the Hornell Maples and batted .271 with a career-high 39 RBI and both of his home runs. In 1943, Frankie hit .246/~.367/.267 for the Toronto Maple Leafs. He helped the club to the International League pennant by drawing 104 walks (second in the IL to Blas Monaco), stealing 22 bases and scoring a league-leading 101 runs. His professional debut was a bit of a fluke occurrence: former high school teammate and future major league umpire Ed Sudol, was playing for Tarboro in 1941 when Zak paid him a visit. Sudol advised him that the team was looking for a shortstop, Zak tried out and was immediately offered a job.
Frankie spent all of 1944 with the Pirates. He appeared in 67 games at shortstop for the team while Frankie Gustine appeared in 116 at the position. With the bat, Zak hit .300 in 160 at-bats during the season while Gustine had 405 at-bats but hit .230. Eddie Miller, one of two All-Star shortstops selected, was injured, and as Zak was in Pittsburgh, PA, where the All-Star Game was played, he was selected as he did not have to travel during World War II. Zak did not get to play as Marty Marion spent the full game at shortstop.
He came back in 1945 and 1946, but had only 48 at-bats in the two years. He spent most of 1945 with the Kansas City Blues, batting .287 with 30 RBI. In 1946, he hit .221/~.324/.267 only in 68 games. After the 1946 season, Zak was selected in the 1946 Rule V Draft from Kansas City by the St. Louis Browns, but was returned to the New York Yankees' organization by the next season. With the 1947 Newark Bears, the shortstop batted .206/~.321/.228 in 76 games.
Zak batted .248/~.329/.298 as the starting shortstop for the 1948 Portland Beavers. He hit .239/~.326/.274 in 40 games for Portland in 1949 and also played briefly for the San Diego Padres that year, going just 3 for 23 with 4 walks. He finished up with the Oklahoma City Indians and batted .249 with 18 RBI to conclude his career.
Frankie's widow Helen was among the attendees of the last game at Three Rivers Stadium as she had continued to follow the club for years after her husband's death.
Sources: 1947 Baseball Guide, The International League: Year-by-Year Statistics by Marshall Wright, the unofficial Pirates e-mail list, Pat Doyle's Professional Baseball Player Database, 1948 and 1949 PCL seasons for Diamond Mind Baseball by Stephen Davis, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette article on the final game at Three Rivers
- NL All-Star (1944)