On November 28, 1942 there appeared in the Detroit Free Press, buried on the sports page, a brief announcement. The announcement read: “Funeral services for Frank (Doc) Owen former Detroit Tiger and Chicago White Sox pitcher will be held at McFarland Funeral Home…Owen died of a heart attack last Tuesday. He was employed at the Ford Motor Company…”1
The Ypsilanti Press on November 30, 1942 in a brief note in the obituary section included the following: “Succumbed in Fordson Hotel Dearborn. Married twice. Wife Eula (Carson) died 15 years prior. Survivors: Brother Edward and niece Marion Owen of Des Moines, Iowa.” Information followed that burial would be in Greenlawn Cemetery in Detroit.2
A former pitching great with the Tigers, the Chicago White Stockings, and then the Chicago White Sox was little remembered by the time he died in Dearborn in 1942. Frank Malcolm “Yip” Owen was born in Ypsilanti on December 23, 1879. His parents were Dr. Frank and Mrs. Georgiana (Webb) Owen. Frank played baseball in the local sandlots. He grew to be 5’11” and weighted 160 lbs.
While not much is know about his life in and around Ypsilanti (which was common in those days of baseball) let me give you a peek into the “baseball” Yip who in his day made himself quite a name and became a part of the history of the Chicago White Sox (even today).
The Baseball Library.com makes the following points about Frank and his career:
• He was one of the best right-handers in the American League.
• He won 64 (!!) games for the White Sox.
• On July 1, 1905 he became the first of only (10) American League pitchers ever to win “two complete games in one day.”
• He was the FIRST pitcher (American League) to steal home!
Frank made his first start with the Detroit Tigers on April 26, 1901 and finished his career with the Chicago White Sox on May 12, 1909.
His greatest years were with the Chicago White Sox. He was a major force in helping the “Hitless Wonders” as they were called with the 1906 World Series.
The Chicago White Sox Media Guide3 provided by Chicago White Sox Media Relations shows the following tributes to Frank:
• 1906 World Series he pitched in Game 2 (Went 6 innings).
• Giving up six hits, three runs, three walks and two strikeouts.
• His 6.0 innings pitched in relief still stands as a White Sox postseason record.
• In 1906 Owen led the White Sox in:
1. Wins with 21 in 1904
2. Games with 42 in 1905/1906
3. Games started with 38 in 1905 and 36 in 1906
4. Completed Games with 34 in 1904, 32 in 1905 and 27 in 1906
5. Led in innings pitched with 315.0, 1904, 334 in 1905 and 293 in 1906
Talk about a work horse!! Finally he was rated as having great control and his pitches were the: fastball, changeup, curveball and slider He was a great team leader. Above all he was considered a GREAT clutch performer. He appeared in the 1904 All-star game.
After the 1909 season was done he came back to live in the Dearborn area. He played sandlot baseball and even managed a few teams. He worked for Ford Motor Company. Records show him to have been in security and a chauffer.
Although married twice no children are listed. He died in Dearborn at the Fordson Hotel on November 24, 1942. He is buried in the Greenlawn Cemetery, Detroit.
He is not forgotten. A check of EBay shows that there are still baseball cards of Franks. They are going for $13 to over $100 depending on the quality.
Frank was an Ypsi boy who deserves to have his name known to our generations. A boy named YIP who became a baseball legend (at least with the White Sox). To bad he isn’t here for the Tigers!
1 “Services Saturday for Frank Owen,” Detroit Free Press, November 28, 1942.
2 “Frank Owen” The Ypsilanti Press, November 30, 1942.
3 Josh Lewis, Frank “Yip” Owen 2009 Chicago White Sox Media Guide, Chicago White Sox
Media Relations, March 4, 2009.
(George Ridenour is a volunteer in the YHS Archives and a regular contributing author for the Gleanings.)
Photo 1: Frank Malcolm “Yip” Owen.
Photo 2: The Frank Owen baseball card.
Photo 3: The 1906 Chicago White Sox World Series team.