|Former Carbon County resident Herman Franks stands before a sculpture which he commissioned at the Salt Lake ball field which is named after him. Franks started his baseball career in Carbon County playing WBBA baseball.|
A conflict in dates prevented congressman Jim Matheson from throwing out the ceremonial first ball at the WBBA tournament in Salt Lake City last week. Instead, the honor fell to the gentleman that the fields at the baseball complex are named for, Herman Franks.
Franks, was born in Price in 1914, and has a long and rich history in major league baseball. While still a youngster, his family moved from Price to Salt Lake City where he graduated from East High School where he starred as a catcher on the the schools baseball team.
In 1931, Franks signed with the Hollywood Stars at the age of 17 and later entered the major leagues where he played with the St. Louis Cardinals, Brooklyn Dodgers and the Philadelphia Athletics as a catcher.
Franks moved on to manage the Chicago Cubs and San Francisco Giants. He also served as a coach under manager Leo Durocher for the 1954 New York Giants team that swept the world series from Cleveland that year.
The first day of the WBBA tournament, Franks kept busy by signing autographs for the young players as well as displaying his world series ring for the awe struck players.
The Salt Lake fields which hosted the WBBA tournament this year were named after Franks for his accomplishments in the baseball world. A bronze baseball sculpture was commissioned by Franks and now graces the entrance of the field.
It seems as though each year at the WBBA tournament there is someone involved with one of the teams that got their start in baseball with a Carbon WBBA team. This year was no different.
Greg Nielson, a former resident of Spring Glen played his WBBA career in the Helper league. Nielson was a manager of the Alpine team that his son played on and he also has a nephew, Kameron Nielson who played for the Helper team this year.
Nielson will forever be remembered for the grand slam home run he hit out of Franklin Covey park in the 1975 state American Legion tournament. The hit kept the Helper team in the meet until the final day of competition.
In the individual skills competition conducted at the tournament, Helper's Anthony Kelley won the throwing accuracy competition from the outfield. His teammate Andrew Jackson had the honor of being the catcher to receive the toss from Franks.
Despite Helper's struggles throughout the WBBA tournament, many memories were made at this years event. Most of these memories were made by Carbon County residents and supporters.