TR South Coach Closing In On Another Milestone As Baseball Returns
The high school baseball season begins today which in itself is a step forward considering there wasn’t one last year. As usual there will be plenty of story lines to follow, can Jackson Memorial continue its winning ways with new head coach Pat George, will Shane Panzini of Red Bank Catholic be a high draft pick in July and when will Ken Frank collect his historic 900th victory.
Frank has been the head coach at Toms River South since 1978 when he replaced the late Al Fantuzzi who he had coached under before Fantuzzi left for Ocean County College. The math says this would be Frank’s 44th season but there wasn’t one in 2020 so officially it’s his 43rd in the dugout although you rarely will find him there on game day.
In that time the retired school administrator has built a legacy that is unmatched as his 894 career wins are the most of any baseball coach in New Jersey history. Clearly he will get to #900 and he will do it with a team short on experience but motivated to be part of what will be a magical moment.
This Indians, who host Howell this afternoon, feature only one starter from 2019 and that is outfielder Tyler Madeo. Frank told me not having a season last spring really hurt in the development of not only his underclassmen but this year’s seniors who badly missed the daily regime that is South baseball.
Despite more than 50 years of coaching at South on a field that bears his name Frank still loves being out there with the kids and the goal has never changed…that is to help mold young men into being the best citizens they can be. If they succeed at baseball, well that’s a bonus. While retired outside of coaching he’s busy driving some of his 11 grandchildren to and from school and while he enjoys watching them playing Little League he does so from outside the centerfield fence. In a related note:
In the spring of 2018 filmmaker Sandy Levine debuted a one-hour documentary titled “South Baseball-The Spirit of Winning.” With the buzz surrounding win #900 the film will be live streamed this Thursday at 7pm at the Grunin Center for the Arts at Ocean County College. This virtual event is free but you must register in advance at: https://www.grunincenter.org/event/south-baseball/