Frank Malzone Bio
One of the best third basemen in Red Sox history, Frank Malzone endeared himself to Boston fans for 11 seasons with his steady hitting and stellar play at the hot corner. The American League’s premier defensive third baseman prior to the arrival of Brooks Robinson, Malzone captured the first three Gold Gloves awarded to junior circuit third sackers, earning the honor from 1957 to 1959. One of the few bright spots on an otherwise dreary Red Sox ball club, Malzone made the American League All-Star Team in six out of the eight years between 1957 and 1964, leading all league third basemen in double plays a record five straight times at one point. A solid hitter as well, Malzone averaged 84 RBIs per-year for Boston during that eight-year period.
Born in the Bronx, New York on February 28, 1930, Frank James Malzone traveled a long and arduous road to the major leagues. After attending Gompers High School in the Bronx, Malzone signed with the Boston Red Sox as an amateur free agent in 1947. He struggled his first few minor league seasons, before missing the 1952 and 1953 campaigns while serving in the Korean War. The third baseman’s play improved upon his return, earning him his first major league call-up late in 1955. Malzone made the Red Sox roster the following spring, but the team sent him back down to the minors after he batted just .165 in his 27 games with the club. He returned to Boston in 1957, though, finally winning the team’s starting third base job at age 27 by hitting 15 home runs, driving in a career high 103 runs, batting .292, and leading all players at his position in putouts, assists, and double plays, en route to winning the first of three straight Gold Gloves. At one point during the season, he tied an American League record for third basemen by amassing 10 assists in one game. Malzone’s outstanding all-around performance earned him his first All-Star selection and a seventh-place finish in the league MVP voting.
Malzone followed up his exceptional rookie season with solid years in both 1958 and 1959, during which time the solid line-drive hitter learned to take better advantage of Fenway Park’s Green Monster in left field. After hitting 15 home runs, knocking in 87 runs, scoring 76 others, and batting .295 in the first of those years, he hit 19 homers, drove in 92 runs, scored a career-high 90 runs, accumulated 34 doubles, and batted .280 in 1959. Malzone made the All-Star Team and won the Gold Glove Award both years, making him the last American League third baseman to win a Gold Glove prior to Brooks Robinson’s extraordinary 16-year run of earning the honor.
Although Malzone continued to post solid offensive numbers in 1960 and 1961, his overall figures fell off a bit from those he compiled his first three seasons. However, he returned to top form in 1962, hitting a career-high 21 homers, knocking in 95 runs, and batting .283. He had one more quality season in 1963, hitting 15 home runs, driving in 71 runs, and batting .291, before age began to catch up with him the following year. After hitting only 13 homers, driving in just 56 runs, and batting only .264 in 1964 – easily his poorest offensive performance since first becoming a regular in 1957 – Malzone began to share playing time at third base with the left-handed hitting Dalton Jones the following year. Released by the Red Sox at the end of 1965, Malzone signed as a free agent with the California Angels. He ended his career as a part-time player on the West Coast, retiring at the conclusion of the 1966 campaign after being released by the Angels. Malzone left the game having hit 133 home runs, driven in 728 runs, scored 647 others, compiled 1,486 hits, and posted a career batting average of .274. Although generally considered to be a solid hitter, Malzone’s lack of patience at the plate limited him to a rather unimpressive .315 on-base percentage over the course of his career. Malzone never led the league in any major offensive statistical category, but he placed second in hits twice and doubles once, and he finished third in runs batted in and doubles once each. In addition to leading all A.L. third basemen in double plays five straight years defensively, he topped all players at his position in assists three times and putouts once.
Following his playing career, Malzone rejoined the Red Sox organization, assuming numerous roles, but serving the team primarily as a scout. After scouting for the organization for 35 years, Malzone eventually transitioned into the role of special assignment instructor. The Red Sox inducted him into their Hall of Fame in 1995 for his contributions to the franchise, both on and off the field. Malzone also joined several other former Red Sox players in the organization’s 2004 World Championship celebration, riding in the “legends” duck boat during the championship parade.
- All-Star, Boston Red Sox, Brooks Robinson, California Angels, Dalton Jones, Fenway Park, Frank Malzone, Gold Glove