Frank Saucier has been unfairly boxed into a corner of baseball history, long pigeon-holed as part of a gimmick created by Bill Veeck, the game’s greatest showman. While Saucier is best-remembered for his getting pinch-hit for by the 3-foot-7 Eddie Gaedel, his life on and off the field is so much more fascinating and remarkable when not simply viewed through this one prism.
Saucier, 95, might be one of the best pure hitters who, through no fault of his own, never made it big in the Major Leagues. He terrorized opposing pitchers throughout the minor leagues in the late 1940s, though. While his career was brief – he only played three seasons in the minors and a handful of games in the Major Leagues – it was an undeniably incredible run, especially when considering what he could have accomplished if not for a military commitment, injuries and his burning passion to become a successful business man.
So, if the discussion surrounding Saucier is limited to the events that took place at Sportsman’s Park in St. Louis on Aug. 19, 1951, then those leading that discussion might want to go a bit deeper. Saucier was a hero in the truest sense of the word, volunteering to fight in World War II before giving up his baseball career in order to return to the Navy and serve during the Korean War.
He was one of the first U.S. Navy men to enter Hiroshima just days after the atomic bomb was dropped in August of 1945 and bore witness to the devastation that ultimately led to the war’s conclusion. And, had Japan not surrendered, Saucier would have been part of what would have been the invasion force that was scheduled to land on the Japanese homeland later that year.
Saucier’s memory of the war’s closing days, as well as his recollection of what happened with Gaedel remain sharp. That he handled the Gaedel incident with such aplomb speaks volumes about his character as well as his ability to see the big picture. He never held it against Veeck. Rather he was and remains amused by the entire escapade.
“I thought then and I still do that it’s the funniest act of show business I have ever seen,” Saucier said.
Saucier’s good-natured approach, not only toward Veeck but with everything he has experienced, has contributed to the Missouri native’s long and productive life. And it began nearly a century ago in a fashion that seemed to be pure Americana.
“The St. Louis Browns were the only losing sports club I was ever a member of in my entire life. That was kind of different. That took a little talking to myself but I really needed the money.”
GROWING UP IN THE SHOW ME STATE
Saucier grew up in the town of Washington, MO at the height of the Great Depression. He had created his own hunting and trapping enterprise by the time he was 10, though, and it was clear that his future would someday include business.
“I was a fur trader,” Saucier said. “I was a hunter and a trapper, trading skins of furbearing animals like raccoon, mink, possum, skunk and occasionally a wolf. That’s when I knew I always wanted to be in business. I paid my way through the last years of grade school and four years of high school with it.”
Saucier’s first sale was for a little more than $100 to Sears and Roebuck. He used the money to buy textbooks for school and continued that practice until he went into the Navy as a 17-year-old.
While he was busy establishing himself as an entrepreneur he was also occupied by baseball. His four brothers and sister all played baseball and/or softball. He learned the fundamentals of the game from his older brother, Clay, who helped mold Frank Saucier into the ballplayer he would someday become.
“My first toy I ever had was a round rubber ball that was painted white with rustic stitching painted on it,” Saucier said. “My first team was in first grade and it seemed like I could see and hit the ball and run as fast as or faster than most. It was just kind of in the genes. My dad had been a pitcher, one of his brothers was a lefty and one was a catcher so it [baseball] has been in the family as long as I could remember.
“All four of my brothers and my sister played baseball and or fast pitch softball. I never thought much about it; that’s just what we did. Baseball and basketball were my two best sports though played ice hockey and a bunch of other stuff.”
Saucier said he didn’t have a favorite team but admits he was partial to the Cardinals, who shared Sportsman’s Park in St. Louis with the Browns. The Gashouse Gang was at its peak while Saucier was growing up and would make post-season barnstorming visits around the area, including in Washington.
Frank Saucier, 1949 Wichita Falls Spudders, where he batted .446
“After the regular season was over, four or five players would come to Washington and play in an exhibition game against a team my oldest brother was on,” Saucier said. “My brother hit one [a homer] in one game and I guess it’s still going. They [the Cardinals] played just like we played. I liked the sport but I thought it could help me do what I wanted to do. I never thought of it as a career. It was a stepping stone.”
Washington High School didn’t have a baseball team but that didn’t slow down Saucier, who also played fast-pitch softball. He said that Washington was a “hotbed” for baseball, sporting four or five different teams that were sponsored by groups like the Elks or the Hummingbirds. He played on one of those town teams during the summer, joining his first men’s team when he was 14.
“If you were a ballplayer, that was the place to grow up,” he said. “The toughest baseball pitcher I ever faced in my life was a left-handed pitcher there in Washington, Missouri. He was 18 and I was 14 and a left-handed hitter. Dave Dougherty. After a couple of games against him I wondered if I could play the game. Overall, though, it didn’t make a difference to me if the pitcher was right-handed or left-handed as long as they got it over the plate. But by far, Dougherty was the toughest pitcher I ever faced.”
Though he didn’t play baseball in high school, he did during his freshman year at Westminster College. The school, in addition to being a training ground for Saucier, also has great historical significance. It was there in 1946 that former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill delivered his famous Iron Curtain speech, which helped define global politics for the next half century.
Saucier hit .519 for Westminster and he credits Albert Fisher, one of his coaches at Westminster, with helping him develop. Fisher won 103 games over 13 minor-league seasons, the majority of which were spent in the Cardinals organization.
“I remember his batting practice and he was harder to hit than most teams we played against,” said Saucier, who would go on to have the field at Westminster named after him. “I managed to get a hit every other time at bat that year. I think I hit .519. I went back after the war for my senior year and my average dropped to .500. The baseball always looked large to me.”
While Fisher might have helped Saucier he did a great deal to help himself. He was a brilliant student and decided that taking a scientific approach to hitting might be the way to go. So, he spoke with one of his professors about the feasibility of using the formula for kinetic energy [K.E. = 1/2 m v2] at the plate. The professor agreed that it should work.
“I went to a lighter bat and it made all the difference in the world for me,” Saucier said. “From the standpoint of physics, it made sense because the kinetic energy increased. I started out with a 35-inch, 34- or 35-ounce bat and went to a 33- or 34-inch, 32-ounce bat. It was the lightest one I could find and it made all the difference in the world for me. It was all bat control.”
Frank Saucier (L) and Manager Rogers Hornsby (C) during spring training in Burbank, CA, March 1952 (the last year the Browns played at Olive Memorial Stadium)
GOING TO WAR AND COMING HOME
Saucier’s breaking down the physics of the baseball swing would become secondary to his commitment to the United States Navy, though. He entered the Navy’s V-12 officer training program at Westminster and completed it at Notre Dame. He volunteered for the Scouts and Raiders, which were the Navy Seals of that era, seeking to serve as a commander.
“I had four older brothers and they all volunteered,” Saucier said. “When I turned 17, I volunteered. I was 18 when I was commissioned and the rules said you had to be 19. But I was commissioned at the University of Notre Dame [as an Ensign]. My captain called me in two weeks before commissioning and told me Navy regulations but that I would be commissioned anyway.
“There were 300,000 high school seniors that took the test for V-12 and 60,000 of us were commissioned, 15,000 into the Marines and the rest into the Navy. They gave me the choice of working on underwater demo or being an amphibious assault team commander. I said I think I’ll take the latter and I became the CO of Beach Assault Team 76. It was a way for me to get to college so I am very beholden to the Navy. It did everything it said it would do from the time I went in in ’43 until I was released from active duty in ’46 and was a member if the Naval Reserve until ‘58. I would do it again.”
His unit was already in the Pacific Theater when Saucier learned that the war had come to an end. The U.S. had dropped a pair of atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki and that, combined with the Russians entrance into the Pacific war, led to Japan’s surrender. Saucier and his unit landed in Japan a few days after the surrender and were among the first to enter what had been Hiroshima.
“I thought when I saw it that ‘Well, you guys started it, we’re going to finish it’,” Saucier said. “I’ve never seen anything like it in my life. Looking at Hiroshima, about the only thing you could see was the iron skeleton of a building. The rest was all crumbled. I never learned what building that was but the iron frame was all that was left standing.
“We were there for a couple of hours and it was deserted when I saw it. I didn’t see anybody. It was kind of like ghost remains. It was the remains of a war that we didn’t start.”
When Saucier finished up his first tour of duty he returned to Westminster to finish, with the aid of the GI Bill, his college career. He played one more season at Westminster and hit .500. It didn’t take long for him to earn a tryout with the St. Louis Browns, a generally moribund franchise that had some solid seasons in the mid-1940s, including a trip to the 1944 World Series which they lost to the Cardinals.
With the St. Louis Browns, 1951
THE START OF SOMETHING SPECIAL
Several Major League scouts, including Jack Fournier from the Browns, watched what Saucier had done during the college season upon his return from the Pacific. Saucier’s ultimate goal remained getting to Texas so he could begin a career in the oil industry. He knew he didn’t have the means to start his own business just yet so baseball, in his mind, was a stepping stone toward achieving that goal.
“I thought I could get to Texas by means of professional baseball,” Saucier said. “When Browns scout Jack Fournier talked to me, he asked if I’d be interested in playing pro. The first question I had was do you have a team in Texas. He said yes, we have two. So for x number of dollars we agreed.
“He said it’s already June, would you mind playing at Belleville [Ill. of the Class-D Illinois State League] and then next year you can go to Texas. I said you have a deal and I had enough money to pay off my debts and I had a little left over to buy a car. So I went to Belleville.”
The July 16, 1948 edition of the Washington Citizen announced Saucier’s signing. The article mentioned that he was a catcher who also played infield and outfield and that he had actually signed with Elmira – another “Brownie” farm team but would remain in Belleville on option. The story closed out with the following line – Frank is very well known in Washington and everyone wishes him great success.
Apparently their well wishes worked, at least when Saucier was healthy. He appeared in 39 games and hit .357 in 140 at-bats, a clear indication of what was to come. He finished second in the batting race, four points behind Marion’s Richard Martz. Saucier lost the last three weeks of the season, however, after a foul tip broke his thumb in early August. He was leading the league in hitting [.378] at the time of the injury, according to the Washington Citizen [August 12]. The story added that his teammates, “most of whom only had a limited education”, called him “professor because of his education”.
Frank Saucier sharing the cover of The Sporting News on 1/3/1951
“[Former Cubs starter] Claude Passeau was a manager in that league and so was [former Cardinal infielder] Frank Crespi,” Saucier said. “A foul tip broke my thumb but before I got to that point, [Browns owner] Charles Dewitt came over to me and asked if I would mind having a guy just out of high school as my roommate. His name was Bob Turley. Even though he was just out of high school, he had three pitches and they were fast, faster and fastest.
Turley, like Saucier, would make his Major League debut in 1951 and play with the Browns/Baltimore Orioles through 1954 before he was traded with Don Larsen to the New York Yankees where the legend of Bullet Bob Turley grew. Turley went 9-3 with a 4.45 ERA in 16 games at Belleville, most of which featured Saucier behind the plate.
“Catcher’s gloves that were used then were not nearly as good as now, 70 years later. I always had a sore spot on my left hand where my index finger met the hand from catching Bob Turley’s fastball. Two years later I had a contract with Baltimore of the [Triple-A] International League but I requested to go to San Antonio [of the Double-A Texas League] and when I got to San Antonio, there was my friend Bob Turley. They [later] traded him to a different team, which was a mistake.”
The Browns, however, weren’t making any mistakes with Saucier. Though he had been assigned to Baltimore of the International League, he wanted to remain in the middle of the country. Saucier was assigned to the Wichita Falls Spudders of the Class-B Big State League, allowing him to be closer to where he wanted to start his business.
He didn’t disappoint, either, rewarding St. Louis by proving he was too big for the Big State League. Saucier hit .446 in what is widely regarded as one of the finest seasons in minor league history. He only appeared in 96 games after missing several weeks over the summer with yet another hand injury. Saucier was hit with another foul ball, this one on July 22 against Temple, which resulted in him needing five stitches between his thumb and forefinger.
When he was on the field, though, he was a terror, going 141-for-316 with 35 walks and a .507 on-base percentage. He drove in 74 runs, scored 75 runs, stole 12 bases and won his first batting title. His batting average was, at the time, an affiliated baseball record, which has since been broken [Gary Redus hit .462 for Billings of the Rookie-Level Pioneer League in 1978].
“I never thought it was easy,” Saucier said. “Every time I was at bat, it was a real chore. It required total concentration every time.”
The Aug. 5 edition of the Washington Citizen, while reporting that Saucier had been named Spudders’ Player of the Week declared “He can’t miss being a star in the Major Leagues”. The Wichita Daily Times reported on Sept. 30 that Saucier would be headed to spring training with Baltimore in 1950 while The Sporting News reported that he would be playing for Cienfuegos Almendares of the Cuban League that winter.
The Browns wanted Saucier in St. Louis in 1950 but he preferred Texas. He wanted to be close to the oil business, his new wife was in Texas and the accommodations in the Lone Star State were better, in his opinion, than St. Louis so he was assigned to San Antonio of the Double- A Texas League.
“Baseball was always my stepping stone to Texas,” Saucier said. “I had met my wife [Virginia Pullen] to be and our living conditions in Texas were equal to or better than St. Louis. The Texas oil operators usually sponsored the baseball teams, too. And, in the Texas League, we stayed in the best hotels in Houston, Dallas, Fort Worth, Shreveport and Beaumont. The living conditions were superb in Texas.”
Saucier’s comfort level contributed to yet another spectacular season. He had already become a known commodity for his ability at the plate and that season his talents were on display yet again as he batted .343 to edge out future Yankees infielder Gil McDougald to win his second batting title. In addition, he was named as The Sporting News Minor League Player of the Year as San Antonio won the Texas League title before defeating Southern League champs Nashville in the Dixie Series.
The big news regarding the Dixie Series was whether Saucier would even play because of his impending nuptials. The San Antonio Light ran a story that featured a two-column head shot of Virginia Pullen with the following caption, VIRGINIA PULLEN, WHO’LL BECOME MRS. SAUCIER, Wedding Conflict Cleared by Schedule Change.
The story called her “an understanding girl” after the couple decided that he could play in a Friday night game and miss the wedding rehearsal. Saucier got additional good news when officials from both leagues also decided that the Saturday game, scheduled to take place in San Antonio, would also not take place because it conflicted with a Texas-Texas Tech football game.
“I told Virginia that baseball had been good to the both of us and pointed out that we would never have met if not for baseball,” Saucier told the San Antonio Light at the time. “She saw things my way right away so I know that I am marrying a very understanding girl.”
The Sporting News also reported on Oct. 11 that a local San Antonio department store would be giving out shoes to each of the player’s wives for every hit they got in the Dixie Series, writing that “Mrs. Frank Saucier, the newlywed” received a pair.
Saucier, however, had already decided that season would be his last. He told The Light that he had made up his mind but that he wasn’t ready to divulge his plans as the Dixie Series ended. His plan, however, was to remain in Texas and tend to his business affairs, which included his stake in several profitable oil wells.
Bill Veeck shown with St. Louis Browns, 1952
1951 AND A PLACE IN BASEBALL HISTORY
The Browns learned of Saucier’s plans before the end of the calendar year and were prepared to head into the 1951 season without the player whom many considered a local hero. Saucier had appeared in 265 games over the course of three minor-seasons and retired with a .381 [343-for-901] career batting average. It was no secret that he, along with his new wife, were ready to make a life for themselves in the world of business and that baseball was clearly in their rearview mirror.
Then along came Bill Veeck, the former owner of the Cleveland Indians who had to sell that franchise in order to pay for his divorce. The ink on the divorce papers was barely dry when he purchased a majority stake in the Browns during the early summer in 1951. The team was in last place in the American League and had few marketable stars [Negro Leagues star and future Hall-of-Famer Satchel Paige and 1949 Rookie of the Year Roy Sievers, who would go on to have a stellar career with the Washington Senators] with no positive end in sight.
“He [Paige] was funny,” Saucier said. “He was a real comedian. Our lockers were side by side in the clubhouse. He didn’t like mules and I grew up working behind them. The one thing he said was ‘Don’t ever trust no damn mule. If you try to pull them, they’ll bite your ear off and if you try to push them, they’ll kick your head off’. From what I had heard he had worked in the cotton fields [when he was younger] and man he didn’t like mules.”
Veeck thought that Saucier could be a savior. Upon purchasing the team, Veeck headed to Washington to seek out Saucier and get him to end, what was at the time, a brief retirement. That Saucier hadn’t picked up a bat since the previous fall and was dealing with a bad right shoulder mattered little to Veeck.
“He showed up and he was on crutches and I noticed they were clamped around his forearms,” Saucier said. “He said the only time I wear them is when I need a little sympathy and don’t think I have a strong negotiating position. He needed them because he had gotten hurt in the Marine Corps. I hadn’t played since September or October and I told Veeck that but he viewed the [second half] of the season as my spring training. I said that’s fine with me if it is for you. But I got hurt as a result of rushing back and trying to get ready. I developed acute bursitis in my right shoulder and believe it or not, I had a half dozen infected blood blisters on each hand from taking so much batting practice because we didn’t have batting gloves back then.
“I didn’t really think much about it. I needed the money to carry my interest in another well we were drilling. I was disappointed that I couldn’t play but the St. Louis Browns were the only losing sports club I was ever a member of in my entire life. That was kind of different. That took a little talking to myself but I really needed the money.”
Recent photo of Frank Saucier holding an Eddie Gaedel bobblehead. (Photo courtesy of the Saucier family)
Saucier, with a bum shoulder and bloody hands, made his Major League debut on July 21 against the Yankees at Sportsman’s Park. He pinch-hit for pitcher Duane Pillette in the ninth inning and grounded out to short.
“It was tough,” Saucier said. “In fact, when I went to bat against the Yankees, Yogi Berra was catching and he said you’re getting blood on my glove. I said just move it.”
Saucier played sparingly, going 0-for-5 in four more July games at which time it became clear he wasn’t really in condition to play. He drew a walk on Aug. 5 against at Yankee Stadium and picked up his only hit – a double – two days later in Cleveland. He appeared in two more games, picking up an RBI on Aug. 18 in Detroit before the Aug. 19 doubleheader that would bring him lifelong attention.
Gaedel had been a performer and showman for much of his adult life so putting on another show just for Veeck wasn’t out of the ordinary. At least for him. He had also spent time at the ballpark before Aug. 19, according to Saucier, so he was familiar with the team. Gaedel’s first appearance of the day came in between games of the doubleheader when he popped out of a giant cake that had been wheeled onto the field. He was wearing a St. Louis uniform with the number 1/8 on the back.
Perhaps people should have expected something out of the ordinary. After all, it was Bill Veeck running the show. And, when manager Zack Taylor penciled in Saucier as the right fielder in addition to batting leadoff for the nightcap, something seemed strange.
“When Zack Taylor told me I was starting in right field even though I couldn’t throw and had bloody hands, I just said okay,” Saucier said. “I was on my way out to right field, I had not played there before, and our second baseman Bobby Young stopped me and said ‘This is the first time in my life I saw someone put in a game that couldn’t play. If the ball is hit to you, I will run out and you just underhand it to me and I’ll throw it to the infield’.
“Well, Vic Wertz hit one to right field and I forgot what Bobby and I had talked about. I picked it up and threw it to third and my shoulder dropped down a little bit. I never threw again that year.”
When the top of the first ended, Saucier returned to the dugout and began preparing for his at-bat. However, he was called back by Taylor and Gaedel was introduced as the pinch-hitter, stunning the crowd. The umpires immediately began to object but Veeck was prepared, having given Taylor a copy of the notice that was sent to the league office adding him to the roster.
Eddie Gaedel on St. Louis Browns bench, 1951. (Photo via Browns Historical Society)
“It was kind of an Oh My, Ooh, Ooh, Ooh,” Saucier said. “Bob Swift was catching and Bob “Sugar” Cain was pitching and they had a little conference on the mound. When Swift came back, he laid as flat as he could and the ball came across at Eddie’s head. He never did throw a strike. He threw four balls and when Eddie was trotting to first, he took off his cap and bowed to the crowd on the first-base side.
“[Famous baseball] clown Max Patkin was our first-base coach. Eddie Gaedel patted him on the bottom and trotted to the dugout. Jimmy Delsing came in to pinch run. When Eddie got back to the dugout I said ‘You kind of hammed it up going to first base’. He said ‘Man, I felt like Babe ROOT’. I thought it was funny then and I still do. He was in the clubhouse before the game and then was sitting next to Zack Taylor on the bench. I thought that was kind of funny but you never know what’s going to happen when Bill Veeck owned the team.”
The American League eventually voided Gaedel’s contract but it was too late to change what had happened. The escapade had become national news and has forever been etched in the annals of baseball history as one of the oddest, though funniest, events ever to take place.
“I never got angry or upset at Veeck,” Saucier said. “Bill was a showman. You know we’d have fireworks and he’d say baseball is entertainment and we’re going to entertain the crowd the best we can.”
Ed Wheatley, 68, is an author, filmmaker and president of the St. Louis Browns Historical Society and Fan Club. He remains a bit disappointed that the Gaedel incident is Saucier’s claim to fame for many.
“His minor league career is overshadowed by Eddie Gaedel,” Wheatley said. “It doesn’t say Minor League Player of the Year. What you get is the guy that Eddie Gaedel pinch-hit for. Fans came by the busload that day from Washington, Missouri, which was maybe 60 miles away from where Sportsman’s Park would have been. He went out and started the second game of that doubleheader and they made a big publicity push that Frank was starting and that this was the day that he was going to break out.
“This was the guy they wanted to see and they took him out and a lot of people stormed out of the stadium. Frank offered to pay for their tickets if they felt they were cheated.”
Ultimately, the Browns fans were cheated because they never saw the best of Saucier, who appeared in eight more games that season, going hitless in five at-bats. His final line – a .071 batting average [1-for-14], four runs scored, four strikeouts and three walks. His last big-league appearance came on Sept. 23 at Comiskey Park in Chicago as a pinch-runner.
Gaedel died in 1961 at the age of 36.
Frank Saucier posing with his silver bat. (Photo: Michael Schumacher/Amarillo Globe-News)
HELLO FRANK, IT’S THE NAVY CALLING
Veeck had higher hopes for the Browns in 1952, especially since Hall-of-Famer Rogers Hornsby would be taking over as manager. That, combined with the thought he’d have Saucier for an entire season, lent to an air of optimism to spring training. Saucier was excited about the possibility of playing for Hornsby, against whom he had played in the minor leagues.
“I liked him,” Saucier said. “In fact, he was one of the ex-players who said to me don’t ever let anybody touch your batting. He just said keep doing what you are doing. I thought he was a straight shooter but a lot of players didn’t like him, so I read.”
The world outside of baseball, however, didn’t stop because Hornsby had taken over the Browns. When Saucier was released to inactive duty from the Navy following World War II he knew that there was always a chance he could be recalled to active duty. When the Korean War broke out in June of 1950 that possibility became more of a reality.
The Navy had sent Saucier a notice to report to active duty but Veeck had intercepted the communique and destroyed it. The Navy then sent another and more threatening communique, a collect telegram that Saucier did receive and it was at that point he knew his baseball career was officially over.
“I didn’t get angry with Veeck about the Navy,” Saucier said. “I just said ‘Hey Bill, why didn’t you tell me?’ He kind of laughed and said ‘I figured I needed you more than they did’.”
Saucier was sent to Pensacola Naval Air Station in Florida and prepared to spend the next several years fulfilling his commitment to the Navy. He remained steadfast in his appreciation for what the Navy had done for him nearly a decade earlier and viewed his professional baseball career as a thing of the past. Veeck, however, had different plans and at one point went down to Pensacola in an attempt to convince Saucier’s superior officers to release him so that he could play for the Browns in 1953.
“He [Veeck] called me and said I want to come see you and came down there,” Saucier said. “He said he’d meet me at the airport so I went to meet him when he got off the plane. He said he came to get me out of the Navy and I told him I couldn’t do that, that it was a deal I had made many years ago.
“He asked if I could arrange for him to meet Admiral [John] Whitney and I did and he went to meet him. He stopped by to see me after his last visit with Admiral Whitney and he said ‘You were right, I struck out’. I told him he would. I never saw Bill Veeck again.”
Saucier did get on the field for one final hurrah, though, leading his base’s team to the Sixth Naval District title. Fittingly, he hit over .500.
He was discharged from the Navy in 1958 after having reached the rank of Lieutenant. Saucier returned to Texas and continued to fulfill the goal he had set for himself years earlier – he remained in the Lone Star State and spent the next three-plus decades as a successful business man at first working for other companies before owing his own company that marketed and distributed heavy industrial chemicals, primarily natural gas-treating chemicals.
Saucier never returned to baseball though he continued to play fast-pitch softball into his 40s. Saucier doesn’t watch much baseball. In fact, he says he never watched much baseball because he would rather play than watch. Still, he continues to enjoy when he does catch a game and there is a late-inning rally or a walk-off homer.
Author Jim Ball is putting the finishing touches on “It Wasn’t All About Eddie”, a book about Saucier’s life and his baseball experiences. Ball, who also lives in Texas, actually got to see Saucier play several times when he was with San Antonio in 1950.
Virginia Saucier, one of the stars of Frank Saucier’s story, passed away in 2009. He continues to label their meeting as the best thing that has happened in his life. Saucier, who, according to Wheatley, is one of only four living former St. Louis Browns, also continues to credit the Navy and baseball as two of the main reasons why he was able to do what he has done.
“I’m grateful because I was able to hit, that never left me and that was a God-given gift,” Saucier said. “I thank him for that gift because that made it possible for me to do what I wanted to do. I’m very grateful to baseball and the Navy because growing up on a farm in Missouri during the Depression was tough. But those two things, and of course Westminster College, I’m grateful to them because they taught me how to think rather than what to think.”