I finished paying my respects to John B. Thompson, a Medal of Honor recipient who rests in the Old Church Cemetery west of Port Royal, and turned my attention towards the cemetery on the opposite side of Route 75. Note: More about John B. Thompson can be found here: James B. Thompson.
Crossing Route 75, I entered the New Church Cemetery. Knowing where the grave was I sought, I entered the cemetery through the middle road and stayed to the right when the roadway split. I only went a couple of car-lengths before stopping and getting out of the vehicle. Scanning the stones I immediately spotted the name “Frankhouse” and walked toward the stone, knowing the grave was in the plot next to the larger memorial.
As I walked toward the larger of the stones, I could see the flat marker and knew this was the grave of the man I had come to visit. This was the resting place of baseball pitcher Fred Frankhouse, whose career spanned thirteen seasons in the National League including a no-hitter that is no longer recognized by Major League Baseball.
Frederick Meloy Frankhouse was born in Port Royal on April 9, 1904, the youngest of five children of Charles and Jennie Frankhouse. He attended Port Royal schools until in his high school years, when he went to and graduated from Lewistown High School. Frankhouse started playing baseball while in high school for teams in Dauphin and Perry Counties.
At the age of nineteen, the right-handed pitcher was signed by the St. Louis Cardinals. From 1922 to 1927, Frankhouse would pitch for the Ottawa Senators, Syracuse Stars and Houston Buffaloes of the St. Louis farm system. On September 7, 1927, Frankhouse would make his start with the St. Louis Cardinals and that season he started six games with a 5-1 record.
The following year, Frankhouse started ten games with a 3-2 record. Also that year, St. Louis went to the world series, but Frankhouse never pitched as the team lost four straight games to the New York Yankees.
Frankhouse was part of a trade with the Boston Braves in 1930 and spent the next six season there. 1934 proved to be his best season with a 17-9 record and that year he was selected as a part of the All-Star Game. In 1936, Frankhouse was traded to the Brooklyn Dodgers and the following year he pitched a no-hitter against the Cincinnati Reds – on August 27, 1937, he pitched seven and a half innings before a downpour halted the game.
After the 1938 season, Frankhouse would be traded to the Boston Bees and 1939 would be Frankhouse’s final season in the Majors. On May 17, during a game against the Cincinnati Reds, Frankhouse struck out Ernie Lombardi who complained that Frankhouse struck him out using an illegal spitball. Frankhouse responded – whether on purpose or by accident – by hitting the next batter, Harry Craft, in the head, knocking him unconscious. Frankhouse would be warned he would be suspended for ten games if it was discovered he used a spitball again. A couple days after this incident, Frankhouse would be the starting pitcher in a game that would become a part of history. On the May 25 loss against the Philadelphia Phillies was the last game that Herman “Babe” Ruth played in.
Frankhouse was released by the Boston Braves in January 1940. He was picked up by the New York Yankee farm system and played with them through the 1942 season when he retired from baseball.
His career in the Major Leagues saw Frankhouse appearing in 402 major league games, starting 216 of them. He ended his Major League career with 106 wins, ninety-seven losses, eighty-one complete games, and 622 strikeouts. Note: all biographies of Fred Frankhouse state he started in 216 games, however, the official statistics show he started in 213 games. I’m not sure why there is a three game difference.
After leaving baseball, Frankhouse joined the US Army and served in World War Two as a captain in the Transportation Corps. He served for two and a half years before being honorably discharged. He was asked to return to baseball as a scouting coach, but he turned down the offer and returned to Port Royal. There he operated a Christmas tree farm and coached Little League.
Frankhouse died August 17, 1989 at the age of eighty-five and was buried at New Church Hill Cemetery, west of his hometown of Port Royal.
Two years after his death, Frankhouse’s no-hitter was removed from the official records. In 1991, the official definition of a no hitter was changed, declaring it has to be a game of nine innings or more that ends with no hits, thus removing this feat from Frankhouse’s record. Rather than changing the definition of a no-hitter and grandfathering in ones already recognized, the committee decided to eliminate any game from the record that did not meet this new definition. In all, there were fifty games removed from the list of no-hitters, including the one pitched by Frankhouse.
Note: A breakdown of the fifty no-hitters removed from official recognition include: thirty-six games shortened by weather and darkness, two games where the losing pitcher had a no-hitter but the home team didn’t bat in the ninth (the pitcher has thrown a no-hitter, but walked players who would score), and twelve games pitchers who threw nine no-hit innings to lose it in extra innings of no-hit ball only to yield a hit in extra innings.
I finished paying my respects to the Major Leaguer, thanking him for his service and while the official records may not recognize his no-hitter, he feat is still remembered by the community he called home.