Bill Frank Sr. has not been around physically for more than three years.
However, his presence was large Thursday night at Toms River East’s Raider Ravine as Toms River East defeated Jackson Liberty, 6-0. The Raiders’ win gave head coach Bill Frank, the youngest of Bill Frank Sr.’s two sons, career win No. 500.
Bill Frank became the third coach in Shore Conference history to reach the 500-win mark behind his brother Ken, the current Toms River South head coach who is the state’s all-time wins leader with 787 and current Christian Brothers Academy head coach Marty Kenney who has 705.
“I really wish my dad was here to see this,” Bill Frank said. “He would have loved to have seen my brother last year (when Ken Frank became the state’s all-time winningest coach) and me this year.”
Bill Frank Sr. was the Little League coach for his two sons when they were growing up in Jersey City.
Then, when his two sons coaches, Bill Frank Sr. and his wife Julia became their two sons’ biggest fans.
When Toms River East and Toms River South played each other, Bill Frank Sr. and Julia Frank would remain neutral and would be happy when those games ended so their sons’ could move on and coach their teams against somebody else’s team.
At many a Toms River East game through the years, Bill Frank Sr. and Julia Frank would watch the game from their car atop the hill at Toms River East. They would do the same thing at many a Toms River South game with their car parked down the right field line at Toms River South’s Ken Frank Baseball Stadium.
“He was our life,” said Bill Frank about his father. “After every game in high school, he critiqued us. Coaching, my brother would get a phone call. I’d get a phone call. He would say, ‘What did you do this for? Why did you do that?’ He just loved the game. He was a diehard Mets’ fan, so he’d get frustrated. He knew the game. Just to talk to him after the game was always a great thing.”
Bill Frank Sr. taught his two sons the value of hard work He also taught his two sons to strive for perfection.
“He was an old teamster guy,” Bill Frank said. “There were times we wouldn’t eat because he wouldn’t break the picket line.
“He was tough on us. I remember in Little League, one time, I hit two home runs and I struck out twice. I got home. My brother was in one seat. My father was in the other seat. Two hours, I had to listen about the two strikeouts. That’s the way I was raised. Everything is good. I’m proud of my brother and his accomplishments.”
Bill Frank was an assistant coach at Toms River South from 1978-84, the first seven seasons of his brother’s head coaching career.
He then got his chance to coach his own program in 1985, when he became Toms River East’s head coach.
Three seasons later, a team, led by pitcher Chris Wagner, went on a Cinderella run to capture the NJSIAA South Group IV championship. Included in that run was a dramatic 5-4 win at Toms River South when Nick Werkman IV hit a home run onto the roof in right center in the seventh.
“I took all sophomores my first year with a couple of good seniors that they had here,” Bill Frank said. “Danny Dietrich (Frank’s No. 1 assistant coach for all 29 of his seasons) was my right-hand man. He took the freshmen. Joe Arminio (the current Toms River Regional Schools District Athletic Director) was a coach here, too. We built a program from freshman on up.
“I told the kids, ‘You work hard enough and three years you’ll be a state champ,’ and we won the (section) in ’87.”
Toms River East got its state championship in 2001, when a powerhouse team led by catcher Colin Gaynor and pitchers Ryan Doherty and Mike Mongiardini, won the NJSIAA Group IV championship. Two more South IV sectional championships followed in 2004 and 2006, when the team was led by pitcher Casey Gaynor, the Shore’s all-time leader in pitching wins with 34.
The Raiders won eight Ocean County Tournament championships between 1995-2007 and at least a share of eight Shore Conference Class A South championships from 1993-2006, including six straight from 2001-2006.
“What he did at East here will never happen again,” said Ken Frank, who came right from his own team’s game Thursday afternoon against Jackson Memorial and was still in his Toms River South uniform. I’m happy I was here to see this.”