Leading up to the event on November23, we'll have feature stories on the guests you'll be able to meet at this year's Granite State Baseball Dinner presented by Northeast Delta Dental. This week, we'll learn more about Denny McLain, John Frascatore, and Michael Fransoso.
Denny McLain spent ten years in the major leagues, putting together one of the most dominating stretches the game has ever seen from 1965-69. Along the way, he became a two-time Cy Young winner and is baseball's last 30-game winner.
His rise to fame and riches began when he was signed out of high school by his hometown team, the Chicago White Sox in 1962. After a year in the minors, the Tigers plucked him off first-year waivers setting the stage for his major league debut just months later. At the age of 19, he faced the White Sox on September 21 and beat his former team with a complete game effort that include a base hit and an RBI at the plate. In 1964, he began the year at Triple-A Syracuse, but was so impressive he earned a permanent call to Detroit in June.
That move to the bigs in '64 kick-started one of the best five-year runs for any pitcher in his generation. He won 16 games in 1965, throwing 220.1 innings. He began to show his durability by making 38 starts in an All-Star season in 1966 followeed by 37 more outings in '67.
Everything came to a head for McLain over the 1968-69 seasons. In '68, known as The Year of the Pitcher, he compiled 31 wins over a league-best 41 starts. He tossed an astounding 28 complete games and hurled 336 innings, both tops in the majors. Those numbers made him both the American League Cy Young Winner and MVP, the first time that ever happened, and the Tigers eventually beat the Cardinals in seven games to win the World Series. In 1969, when baseball lowered the pitcher's mound to give hitters a chance, McLain "struggled." He won only 24 games with a 2.80 ERA, once again leading the league in starts (41), shutouts (9), and innings (325), and taking home his second Cy Young Award.
McLain's career was tragically cut short by injuries at the age of 29. He spent his last three seasons in the major leagues with a handful of teams, including Ted Williams' Washington Senators in 1971. He finished with a total of 131 victories in ten seasons.
Like fellow dinner guest Richie Scheinblum, John Frascatore is a product of CW Post University on Long Island. A native of the Island, he was drafted in 1991 in the 24th round by the St. Louis Cardinals.
He steadily climbed his way through the Cardinals' minor league system, mostly as a reliever, before making his major league debut in 1994. That debut consisted of one start on July 21 before he was shuttled back to the minors. In '95, he was on the shuttle throughout the season, making 14 appearances over three major league stints, and earning his first MLB win with five solid innings on May 17 against the Dodgers.
After spending all of 1996 with Double-A Louisville, Frascatore was back in the majors for good in 1997. He won five games making 59 relief outings for the Cards that year while posting a solid 2.48 earned run average. He followed that performance up with a 69-outing season in 1998.
His time with the Cardinals ended after '98, but it ended with a trade to the Diamondbacks on the eve of the season opener. His stop in the desert was temporary as the D-Backs needed playoff reinforcements and shipped Frascatore to the Blue Jays in exchange for veteran Dan Plesac.
It's with Toronto that Frascatore found his final home - and a place in the record books. The right-hander appeared in three straight games for the Jays from June 29-July 1. In each of those games he earned the victory becoming the first player to do that in major league history. When you factor in his work over the remainder of July, he won six consecutive decisions for the Jays en route to a personal-best eight wins on the season.
Franscatore was back with the Jays for 60 games in 2000 and another 12 in 2001. After a year in the minors in '02, he headed to Taiwan and won the league's Cy Young Award with a 1.80 ERA.
While his career may not have had the dynamics of a 31-win season like McLain, he was a Steady-Eddy reliever over seven big league seasons, never once landing on the disabled list in his career.
Michael Fransoso is one of the newest Granite State natives playing in professional baseball. The Portsmouth product saw his pro career start this past summer as a 27th round pick by the Pittsburgh Pirates from the University of Maine. After quickly signing with the Pirates, the middle infielder made his debut on June 17 with the Jamestown Jammers, going 1-4 as the team's starting shortstop.
He split his time evenly between short and second base in his first pro season, appearing in a total of 67 games. A .253 hitter, he added two homers and 9 doubles while knocking in 53 runs. If the highlight of his season wasn't a two-game stretch in early July when he went 7-9 with 5 RBI, it might have been the home run he produced in Jamestown's playoff series against State College. (State College won the three-game set, 2-1).
In his college days, Fransoso put together an illustrious career at Maine. He began it on the America East All-Rooke Team in 2010 as a freshman. In 2011, he guided the Black Bears to the NCAA Tournament earning a berth on the Chapel Hill All-Regional Team. As a junior, he made the America East First Team. He ended his career the America East Player of the Year and set a school record for stolen bases.
In his prep days, Fransoso was no stranger to success. He guided the Portsmouth Clippers to back-to-back state titles in baseball in 2008-09, helping the Clippers start the streak of consecutive victories that would eventually set a national record. He double-dipped his during his senior year as prior to winning the baseball title as Northeast Delta Dental Stadium, he guided the Clippers basketball team to a state championship.