The Tenth Inning
 The Tenth Inning Blog
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Flashback: Francingues brothers' accomplishments filled New Orleans sports pages during the '60s and '70s

Brothers Wayne and Ken Francingues grew up in a sports-minded family in the New Orleans area, so it was only natural that they both participated in sports, excelling at multiple levels. During their respective careers, they accumulated numerous honors, including several on the regional and national sports stage. Being ten years apart in age, the brothers’ stellar accomplishments made good headlines in the sports pages of New Orleans newspapers for nearly two decades.

Wayne was a four-sport letterman at Jesuit High School, played American Legion baseball, and competed in baseball and football at Tulane University. His younger brother Ken played prep and American Legion baseball for Rummel High School and also competed in baseball at Tulane. The brothers were all-stars for their respective teams. Both were ultimately selected in Major League Baseball’s amateur draft and played professionally at the minor-league level.

Wayne and Ken’s father, Joe Francingues (correctly pronounced Fra-SANG), played prep baseball in the late 1930s at S.J. Peters High School, where he was a teammate of future Boston Red Sox star Mel Parnell. Joe served as equipment manager at Metairie Playground and head supervisor at Girard Playground. Both of the brothers attribute their sports interest to their father. Their mother Dolores was a frequent attendee at her sons’ games. Ken recalls a comical situation at one of his games, when his mother shouted at the home plate umpire on a close call of one of Ken’s pitches, and the umpire questioned Ken about her when he came to bat.

In Wayne’s junior and senior years, Jesuit won the State AAA basketball championships in 1965 and 1966. He downplays his offensive contribution to his senior team, saying his primary job in the backcourt was to get the ball to Fabien Mang, the Blue Jays’ leading scorer. Yet, Wayne was selected to the All-District second team.

In his senior football season at Jesuit in 1965, he was only one of seven returning lettermen, yet he led the team to the District title over Redemptorist. As a defensive back and quarterback, Wayne was named the District MVP. He was selected for the city’s All-Prep, All-State and All-Southern teams, and the Catholic All-American High School team. In 1980, Wayne was included on the New Orleans area high school All-Decade Team of the 1960s as a defensive back.

Jesuit advanced to the State prep baseball tournament in both his junior and senior years. As a shortstop, he was again named to the All-District, All-Prep, All-State, and All-Southern teams. Playing with the Jesuit-based Tulane Shirts American Legion team in 1965, Wayne helped them advance to the Region 4 playoffs, where they finished in second place to Memphis.

In between his baseball games during his senior year, his overall athleticism allowed him to excel in track and field events, too. Wayne finished first in the District in the broad jump and second in the triple jump.

He was drafted by the Baltimore Orioles in the third round of the 1966 MLB June Amateur Draft. He says he didn’t consider signing at that point because he was being awarded a coveted full athletic scholarship with Tulane University. He recalls the Orioles only offered a $10,000 signing bonus.

Although he entered Tulane on a baseball scholarship, Wayne was encouraged by Coach Jim Pittman to join the freshman football team in 1966, when one of the quarterbacks became injured in pre-season drills. After playing on the junior varsity team as a freshman, he played tailback, as well as backup to quarterback Bobby Duhon, as a sophomore in the fall of 1967. Wayne’s best game came against rival LSU, when he rushed for 70 yards and passed for 61.

In his junior football season in 1968, he led Tulane in total offense with 1,376 yards. His mark put him second on the Green Wave’s all-time list, behind only Don Zimmerman’s 1,459 yards, 42 years earlier.

As a sophomore in the spring of 1968, Wayne led Tulane’s baseball team in RBIs and walks, as the team finished 10-10. Coach Milt Retif’s Green Wave improved to 15-3 in the following season, with Wayne leading the team in home runs and RBIs and batting .342. He and catcher Billy Fitzgerald, a first-round draft choice of the Oakland A’s, became known as Tulane’s “F & F Boys” for their offensive leadership in helping the Green Wave to their best record in 22 years. Both players were selected for the College All-District 13 team that covered several southern states.

The Chicago White Sox selected Wayne in the 10th round of the 1969 draft. But again, he intended to return to Tulane for his senior season and didn’t sign immediately. While playing summer baseball in the Central Illinois Collegiate League, Wayne says he was tearing up the league in hitting, when the White Sox contacted him and urged him not to wait another year to sign. After being offered a $10,000 signing bonus, he consulted with his father and fiancé and decided to accept the team’s offer.

Beginning in 1969, Wayne played three seasons in the low minors, including part of a season with Double A Mobile. After his first season, he required knee surgery that he believes caused him to lose a step on the diamond. While playing for Appleton in the Midwest League in 1970, his teammates were future White Sox major leaguers Bucky Dent, Rich Gossage, and Terry Forster. Wayne recalls that Gossage was an 18-year-old, first-year minor-league fireballer who was just learning to throw a curveball.

Ken Francingues was a right-handed pitcher who received attention in 1974 as a 15-year-old sophomore for Rummel High School and the Rummel based Schaff Brothers American Legion team. Both teams captured state titles. They are considered one of the all-time best high school and Legion teams in New Orleans.


Senior pitcher Rick Zibilich and Ken shouldered most of the pitching load for the Rummel High School team that went 22-2 for the season, including 19 consecutive wins. Ken was named to the All-District team.

Ken split his summer between the Schaff Legion team and the JPRD East Bank Babe Ruth 13-15 team. The East Bank team won the State tournament, with Ken being named the MVP.

Behind a strong hitting team and the pitching of Zibilich, Vince DeGrouttola, and Ken, Schaff advanced all the way to the American Legion World Series in Roseberg, Oregon, where they finished fourth. The team ended with a 30-4 record, including 27 consecutive wins.

Ken has nothing but high praise for that year’s teammates. He said, “I was the luckiest man in the world playing for the Rummel teams with the type of hitters we had.

In 1975 Ken was an All-City and All-State performer for Rummel High School and a Legion All-District selection for Schaff. Among his highlights that season were a no-hitter against Holy Cross in prep and a no-hitter in the Legion South Louisiana tournament.

Ken repeated as an All-City and All-State selection for Rummel in 1976. He pitched an opening day no-hitter against Brother Martin on the way to Rummel making it to the State prep quarterfinals.

Later that summer, Coach Larry Schneider’s Schaff Legion team returned to the World Series being played in Manchester, New Hampshire. Ken lost the opening game but came back in relief in Schaff’s Game 2 victory. However, Schaff finished fourth again, with Ken’s teammate Gus Malespin named the American Legion Player of the Year.

In the long history of New Orleans-based teams who played in the American Legion World Series, Ken is one of only a handful of players to compete in two World Series.

When asked if his brother Wayne had any advice for him during his early career, Ken said, “He taught me how to play the game, how to play with respect and class, and to never show your emotion on the field. That advice served me well.”

Ken followed in his brother’s footsteps to Tulane on an athletic scholarship, playing his freshman season in 1977. Coached by Joe Brockhoff, the Green Wave fielded very competitive teams in the Metro Conference. Ken was in the starting rotation during his first two seasons. His junior season in 1979 was one of the best at that point in Tulane baseball history.

Ken led the Metro Conference in wins (13), ERA (1.95), innings pitched (115.3) and strikeouts (104), as Tulane finished 35-13. They won the Metro Conference Tournament, with Ken being named the MVP. The Green Wave made their first-ever appearance in an NCAA Regional tournament. Ken was an All-Conference player and named the Metro Conference Player of the Year. He finished his career with a 26-9 record, 3.59 ERA, and 212 strikeouts. Over 40 years later, he remains on Tulane’s list of Top 10 all-time pitchers in several pitching categories.

Wayne makes a special point about the type of pitcher his brother was. He said, “Ken was a very successful pitcher, but we have to remember he didn’t throw hard.” Ken acknowledges he kept batters off balance by feeding them a steady diet of curveballs, with some mid-80s fastballs mixed in. He added, “I wasn’t afraid to throw my curve on a 3-and-0 count.”

Ken followed Wayne once again, this time into professional baseball. He was drafted in the 16th round by the Minnesota Twins in June 1979. He was used as a reliever during his first two season with Class A Wisconsin Rapids in the Midwest League.

He went to spring training with the big-league Twins in 1981. He got into one spring game against the Detroit Tigers. He remembers getting Tigers manager Sparky Anderson’s autograph after the game.

Ken was sent to Visalia of the California League, where he had one of his best minor-league outings. In a game against Modesto, he came in to relieve with one out in the sixth inning and proceeded to retire 23 consecutive batters without yielding a hit or walk and striking out 11. Visalia won the game after four runs in the 13th inning. However, Ken left the team in early July in a dispute with the Twins organization over his infrequent use.

Wayne and Ken actually got to play in a baseball game together, years after both were out of baseball. Rags Scheuermann’s All-American League all-stars played an exhibition game against a team of former All-Am players that included the brothers.

Both brothers had successful careers after hanging up their spikes. Wayne is an insurance executive in the New Orleans area, while Ken has been a teacher for 41 years, 38 of which he also served as baseball coach.

They are among the most notable baseball brothers in the city, joining the likes of the Gilberts, Yochims, Staubs, Cabeceirases, Cuntzes, Bullingers, Hrapmanns, and Migliores, just to name a few.

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