Tuesday Aug 04 2009
Delivering on a promise to return
By: Kurt Johnson, The Press Tribune
Another Frank prepares for San Bernardino stage
Six years ago, as his family returned to Granite Bay from watching his older brother participate in the Little League Baseball Western Regional tournament in San Bernardino, a six-year-old boy stated his intention to return to that location as a player himself. On Saturday afternoon in Danville, Nick Frank was on the mound with the chance to deliver on that dream. Like his brother Cody and the 2003 Lakeside Major division all-stars, Nick is now on his way to San Bernardino, with hopes of bettering the result of the earlier edition by earning a spot in the Little League World Series. “Nick got to watch Cody play a lot of high-level Little League that summer, which we didn’t think significant right away,” said Steve Frank, Nick and Cody’s father. “In the car on the way home from San Bernardino, after our team had been eliminated, he said something that was almost prophetic. He told my wife and me that he was going to go back and play at San Bernardino, just like Cody did.” The odds of a team getting this deep into tournament play are long indeed, which makes the story of Nick Frank and his 2009 Lakeside teammates amazing. “We encouraged him,” Steve said, “but reminded him that this is a team effort and not just one good player getting there. My wife and I then looked at each other and knew that the odds of Nick being on a team of that caliber was slim and none. It is just so hard and so many pieces have to fall in place.” With a lot of help from 11 of his closest friends, Frank earned the right to play in the 2009 version of the Western Region tournament as Lakeside finished an amazing journey through the loser’s bracket of the Northern California Division 2 tourney with a 3-2 win over San Ramon. “It is great that he wanted to get there,” Cody said, “but you have to have the team to get there. Once you do, it is a great experience to share something like that with your friends. You never forget and you never lose that friendship.” “At the start of my 12-year-old year I thought we had a chance to get there (San Bernardino),” Nick said when asked at what point he really saw this as a possibility. “I wanted to get back there.” The brothers’ experiences share a lot in common, as both hit in the leadoff spot for their respective teams, and both carried a big load on the mound. Cody was the starting pitcher for the clinching games at the district, section and divisional levels in 2003, and Nick took the ball in the section final as well as Saturday’s divisional championship contest. Nothing could prepare him for the experience of playing in front of 10,000 fans on opening night. Former big league player, Lloyd Moseby, who coached the 2003 team, told manager Dan Trinidad that he did not see a crowd like that until he hit the Triple A level. The atmosphere and the stadium are the two things Nick remembers most about being in San Bernardino with his brother. “It is a great field,” Nick said. “I remember the crowd of something like 10,000 people and that would really freak me out.” Cody and his 2003 teammate, Jimmy Bosco, are both in Southern California this week playing with different baseball teams, but both may come to San Bernardino to address this group of Lakeside all-stars. “I will tell them to play your game and not worry about what is going on around you,” Cody said. “Also, you can’t be goofing off at night when there is no one there to tell you to go to bed. I think we would have done better down there if we had eaten better and slept better.” Steve Frank agrees with his older son. “The kids have to realize that this is not summer camp,” Steve said. “They need to focus and remember that this is all business. Arizona’s team did that well in 2003 and guess who won the tournament.” Steve Frank believes that the 2003 team, which went 1-3 in pool play, had the talent to play with anyone there, and he feels that same way about this year’s club. “Both teams have two things very much in common.” Steve said. “You do not get this far without great chemistry, and as you have seen all along, every night there is a different hero. That is the great thing about the 2003 team and about this team.” Reaching this level is extremely rare for a Little League family, and the Franks feel extremely blessed as they head down this road for a second time. “I have found myself reliving the whole thing and it is quite an experience as a dad,” Steve said.