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For the former footballer, see Frankie Lane

Frank Lane (February 1, 1896 - March 19, 1981) was an American executive in professional baseball for more than four decades, most notably serving as a general manager in Major League Baseball for the Chicago White Sox, St. Louis Cardinals, Cleveland Indians and Milwaukee Brewers.

Contents

Biography

Born in Cincinnati, Ohio, Lane's first brush with professional sports came in American football, where he played guard professionally for a number of "Ohio League" teams prior to the creation of the National Football League. After his attempt at playing professional baseball fell short, Lane shifted to officiating, serving as a highly-touted referee in both football and basketball.

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Baseball front offices

In 1933, he was named as traveling secretary for the Cincinnati Reds, while continuing to spend his offseasons as an official. After later spending one season as general manager of the team's Durham, North Carolina minor league club, Lane was elevated to assistant general manager for the Reds under Warren Giles on November 17, 1936.

After the U.S. entered World War II, Lane went into Navy and spent the next four years in the service before returning in 1946 as general manager of the Kansas City Blues, a farm club of the New York Yankees.

One year in that position led to a two-year stretch as president of the American Association. Lane then resigned that post in 1948 to become general manager of the White Sox. Over the next seven years, he would shape the team into a contender after nearly two decades of mediocrity.

After resigning in September 1955, Lane quickly found work again in St. Louis, where he spent two seasons before peripatetically moving to Cleveland in November 1957.

Lane left Cleveland in January 1961 for an executive position with the Kansas City Athletics, but the combination of Lane and volatile owner Charlie Finley meant an end to his employment just eight months later. The lingering feud between the two over compensation would result in a lawsuit that took over three years to settle.

Due to his uncertain contract status, Lane was forced out of baseball during this period, but found employment on May 7, 1962 as general manager of the National Basketball Association's Chicago Packers.

On January 8, 1965, Lane settled his lawsuit with Finley, accepting $113,000, as well as the freedom to take another position in baseball. Early reports of his being part of an ownership group to buy the Boston Red Sox, as well as potentially serving as president of the Texas League, proved to be unfounded. Instead, Lane was hired by the Baltimore Orioles as a special assistant to general manager Lee MacPhail on March 7, serving primarily as a team scout, a post he would hold for nearly six years.

Shortly before his 75th birthday, he was hired as general manager for the Milwaukee Brewers. Following that stint, Lane concluded his career as a scout for both the California Angels and Texas Rangers.

Death and reputation

Lane would gain fame (and sometimes infamy) for his multiple transactions, earning nicknames such as "Trader Frank", "Frantic Frank", "Trader Lane" and "The Wheeler Dealer" for the more than 400 trades he made over the years, including 241 with the White Sox alone. In addition to dealing figures such as Jim Busby, Norm Cash, Rocky Colavito and Roger Maris, Lane also dispatched future Hall of Famers Enos Slaughter, Red Schoendienst and Early Wynn. When he also tried to trade the legendary Stan Musial, Cardinals owner Gussie Busch blocked the transaction.

Yet players were not the only people involved in Lane's transactions--in 1960, during his tenure with the Indians, he dealt manager Joe Gordon in exchange for Detroit Tigers skipper Jimmy Dykes.

He died in a Dallas, Texas nursing home at 84 years of age. In Bobby Bragan's book You Can't Hit the Ball With the Bat On Your Shoulder, Bragan wrote that he was asked by Commissioner Bowie Kuhn's office to represent them at the funeral. Bragan would be the lone baseball official to attend Lane's rites.

External links

Preceded by
Leslie O'Connor
Chicago White Sox General Manager
19481955
Succeeded by
Chuck Comiskey/Johnny Rigney
Preceded by
Richard A. Meyer
St. Louis Cardinals General Manager
19551957
Succeeded by
Bing Devine
Preceded by
Hank Greenberg
Cleveland Indians General Manager
19571961
Succeeded by
Gabe Paul
Preceded by
Parke Carroll
Kansas City Athletics General Manager
1961
Succeeded by
Pat Friday
Preceded by
Marvin Milkes
Milwaukee Brewers General Manager
19701972
Succeeded by
Jim Wilson

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