Saturday, March 26, 2011

Finch Was 'Fearless'

A story by Baxter Holmes in today's L.A. Times sports section about the New York Yankees playing USC in an exhibition series in 1951 and the tape-measure home run that Mickey Mantle hit in one of the games was accompanied by a graphic of a story written by Frank Finch, who reported on the series for the Times.
Finch was a legend in Los Angeles sports writing. In the early 1950s he covered the Rams, who at the time were one of the best teams in the NFL. He also followed boxing and saw many of the greats of the sport, including Sugar Ray Robinson, Rocky Marciano, Jersey Joe Walcott and Carmen Basilio, fight at places such as the Olympic Auditorium, Wrigley Field and the Moulin Rouge in Hollywood.
When it was more than a rumor that the Dodgers would move to Los Angeles from Brooklyn, Finch, whose nickname was "Fearless," asked sports editor Paul Zimmerman to take him off the Rams beat so that he could learn to cover baseball. He was assigned to report on Los Angeles' two Pacific Coast League teams, the L.A. Angels and the Hollywood Stars.
When the Dodgers opened up the 1958 season at the Coliseum, Finch was assigned to cover the team, and thus became the Times first Major League baseball reporter.


add Finch: He contracted polio when he was a child. The disease caused his right leg to be withered and he had to wear a metal brace attached to his shoe. He walked with a noticeable limp but his handicap didn't slow him down.
He was a florid writer and his baseball prose was sprinkled with colorful phrases, some inappropriate for today, that included "four-ply swat" for a grand slam, "two-bagger" for a double, "can of succotash" or "can of corn" for an easy fly ball.
He once described a Frank Howard home run that just cleared the short left-field screen at the Coliseum as "a high fly ball that came down dripping with egg fu-yung," in reference to "Chinese home run."


last add Finch: He finished his career as an editor on the Times' sports copy desk. He could read a book in one night shift and on his vacations he traveled to far off places, including Europe, Asia and Australia. When he retired in 1976, Walter O'Malley gave him a lifetime pass to the press box at Dodger Stadium.

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