July 14, 2010 - United States Hockey League (USHL) - Sioux Falls Stampede
Sioux Falls, SD-The Sioux Falls Pheasants announced Wednesday afternoon the passing of former manager Frank Verdi. Verdi was the first manager of the Canaries when they joined the Northern League in 1993 and worked through 1995. He compiled a record of 81-71 with the Canaries. In 1994 he led the Birds to a 47-33 record, second best in the Northern League, but missed the playoffs.
"I am personally saddened to hear the news of Frank's passing and send our condolences to Pauline and the family," said Pheasants President and former Canaries GM Gary Weckwerth. "I was very fortunate to start my career in minor league sports working with Frank at the helm of the Canaries. He fit the mold of what baseball personalities are. The stories he shared were endless, they were always entertaining, but most importantly he was just a wonderful person. In my opinion you could not have picked a better baseball man to be a part of the re-introduction of minor league baseball to Sioux Falls." added Weckwerth.
Born in 1926 in Brooklyn, NY, Verdi played with the New York Yankees in 1953. He made a much larger mark as a minor league manager for 21 seasons. He spent the majority of that time working in the Yankees organization. He also spent brief stints managing the Minnesota Twins, Houston Astros and Washington Senators prior to his arrival in Sioux Falls.
Verdi was also well known for surviving a nearly tragic accident in 1959 while playing for the Rochester Red Wings. While standing in as the team's third base coach when he was struck in the head by a stray bullet in Havana, Cuba during a game against the Havana Sugar Kings. He was still wearing the plastic lining in his baseball cap in lieu of a batting helmet and the lining deflected the bullet, which eventually caused a minor shoulder wound. Verdi was elected in to the International League Hall of Fame in 2008.
He was 84 years-old and survived by his wife of 59 years, Pauline and their four sons. The entire Pheasants organization sends their sympathy and condolences to his family.