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Family cherishes ‘Grower’ memories

BRADENTON

The Sunday conversations were coming back.

Frank Lariscy Jr. is 83, but the old baseball picture of his father and namesake jogged his memory.

“I can remember as a kid in Wares Creek, having dinner and when people got through, the women would be clearing away the dishes and the men would sit out on the porch and talk baseball,” he said Monday.

“Dad talked baseball all the time.”

It had been Frank Lariscy Sr.’s livelihood.

He pitched for the original Bradentown Growers in 1919 in the new Florida State League.

“Dad would’ve been about 28 at the time this picture was taken,” said Lariscy Jr., a Bradenton plumber for 60 years. “There were other photos too, but who knows where they’ve gone?”

The picture of Lariscy Sr. is a treasure for the family. It shows a strong resemblance to Michael Lariscy, who was born two weeks after his grandfather died in 1960.

“If you look at the chin, the ears, the eyes, that could be me,” the 49-year-old said. “It’s cool because I never got a chance to see him.”

His sister agreed.

“We knew there was a baseball thing in our family, so it’s fun to see our dad remember his dad,” said Suzy Cabanillas, 52.

Their grandfather was married to Ada Helm for 34 years, before she passed away in 1953. Her family dates back to the late 1800s in Manatee County.

Frank Lariscy Sr.’s road to Bradentown was circuitous.

A Sylvania, Ga., native, he’d previously pitched for a ballclub in Virginia.

“I think it was a Class-A team and that’s as far as he got,” his son recalled. “Stories I’ve heard was he couldn’t go further because he threw the spitball and they outlawed it.

“Then Mr. Beall got hold of him and he was wanting to build a baseball team.”

Bob Beall owned a downtown department store that would flourish after World War II, but his passion was baseball.

Beall’s daughter, Betty Szymanski, 85, remembers Lariscy Sr. “Dad may have encouraged him to come play on the team and give him a job in the store,” she said. “He was one of the main sales people.”

Lariscy Sr. only played with the Growers the first two years.

According to Baseball-Reference.com, he hit .274 and .177, respectively, but no win-loss records are indicated.

His son never got to see him play, except in Sunday adult leagues at McKechnie.

“It was a little ol’ place, just bleachers then,” Lariscy Jr. said. “I got to be a ballboy, too.”

His dad never coaxed him into being a ballplayer. Frank and Ada Lariscy were busy raising a family of four in hard times.

“It seemed like he was just trying to put food on the table,” Lariscy Jr. said. “Besides, I never did think I was good enough.”

Vin Mannix, local columnist, can be reached at 745-7055, or write him at Bradenton Herald, P.O. Box 921, Bradenton, Fl. 34206 or e-mail him at vmannix@bradenton.com. Please include a phone number for verification.

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