Posts Tagged ‘Morris Frank’

Amazing Duo: Adie Marks and Morris Frank

May 9, 2013
Excerpt from "Your 1948 Houston Buffs, Dixie Champions: Brief Biographies By Morris Frank and Adie Marks (1948).

Excerpt from “Your 1948 Houston Buffs, Dixie Champions: Brief Biographies By Morris Frank and Adie Marks (1948).

As a result of those two columns I’ve done this week on the work of Morris Frank and Adie Marks, this very important question came to me today as a comment from Anthony “Tony” Cavender: “Bill: Who drew those great illustrations?”

Adie Marks

Adie Marks

His name was Adie Marks, Tony. Adie Marks did the artwork and Morris Frank did the script for  their 1948 Houston Buffs autograph book of player sketches and summaries. Both were involved with the Houston Buffs as friends and working supporters of club president Allen Russell and beyond Russell’s tenure to the end of the team’s existence in 1961. Frank handled the public address duties at Buff Stadium and Marks handled the team’s advertising. Both used their differing abilities to promote the welfare of Houston baseball. Marks just did his work more quietly, but perhaps, more measurable over time.

It was Adie Marks, who continued his support of Houston baseball as the advertising man for Judge Roy Hofheinz and the Houston Astros. In those times, Marks was credited with coming up with the words and phrases “Astrodomain”  and “Eighth Wonder of the World” as usable descriptors for the world’s first covered athletic stadium. Those entries are what I mean by work that is “more measurable over time”.

It’s not how much you say, but what you say that gets remembered.

I was privileged to have met and lunched with Adie Marks during the very early years of the 21st century. He’s the one who gave me a copy of his 1948 Buffs autograph book. He was a nice guy, fun to spend time with, and a dynamo for ideas on how we could do a better job of promoting baseball in Houston. Unfortunately, Adie Marks died on August 31, 2006 at the age of 91. He went out as he lived – working all day as a Houston ad man.

Morris Frank

Morris Frank

Morris Frank was an absolute force as a Houston sports figure during the 1940’s and 50’s, especially. He wrote a column for the Houston Chronicle and he did all the greeting and announcing of lineups over the PA system at Buff Stadium. If there ever was another voice that handled those duties for the Buffs, he has been long ago forgotten by people like me. Morris Frank and his East Texas twang was – the ballpark voice of the Houston Buffaloes – and the Master of Ceremonies at any sports banquet in Houston that was worthy of holding.

Like Adie Marks, Morris Frank was a close friend and strong working associate of Buffs president Allen Russell – and another person who figured strongly in Russell’s ability to put together a winning business team. Like Marks, Frank was also a charitable man who volunteered his talents to a number of local causes that called upon him for help.

Today we even have a Houston Library branch named for Morris Frank. We ought to have one ,or a school, named for Adie Marks too – and maybe even an avenue for Allen Russell. They were all part of a generational force that has helped to make Houston a better city today.

In a post-mortem column on Morris Frank, friend and fellow writer Bob Bowman closed with the following:

“On July 16, 1975, the day after Morris passed away, the Chronicle published an editorial praising him for his qualities. The editorial concluded with these words: “Will Rogers has often been quoted as saying he never met a man he didn’t like. That was the way it was with Morris Frank, but there was more. With Morris, there never was a person he didn’t love.”

Here’s are links to two Internet pieces on the lives of each man:

Adie Marks ~

Morris Frank ~

Morris Frank: A Friend’s Tribute

June 2, 2011

Morris Frank

To most or none of you younger Houstonians, the name of Morris Frank won’t mean a thing. To those us who are old enough to remember the end of World War II, the name Morris Frank shall remain unforgettable. For all the years I haunted the turnstiles of old Buff Stadium in the late 40s and early 50s, Houston Post sportswriter was the public address system’s Voice of the Houston Buffaloes and Buff Stadium. Hailing from his boyhood home of Lufkin, Texas, and speaking with an East Texas accent  that once dominated the few other variations on English that once thrived in this part of the country, Frank’s announcements for the lineups and next batter at each Buffs game were unmistakable.  I can still hear them reverberating down the corridors of my personal memory.

“Now hitting for your Houston Buffaloes …. number 11 …. the first basemen ….. Witte ….. Jerry Witte …. now hitting for the Buffs!”

Nothing like it. And we fans loved him. No one else would have sounded right to our ears. WIth upbeat notes of Miss Lou Mahan’s ballpark organ following the flight and bounce of the ball during pre-game practices, nothing changed until right before game time. Then came the twangy voice of Morris Frank and we all knew that the game was now on.

“Good evening, ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to Buffalo Stadium, the home of your very own Houston Buffaloes!”

I was going to write an article about Morris Frank until I discovered the following post-mortem tribute to him that had been written back in 2005 by one of his old East Texas friends, a fellow named Bob Bowman. Once I read it, I needed no convincing that the better informed Bowman had a closer take on Frank than any other I had ever dreamed, written, or conceived. So, since he wrote the piece as an inclusion to their local hall of history up in Lufkin, I didn’t think he would mind me passing the same on to you here in this more wide-awake-today forum of the Internet.


My Fried Morris by Bob Bowman

Thirty years ago this month, East Texas lost one of its greatest champions–the son of a Jewish merchant whose legacy of love and humor still endures.

Morris Frank, who gained fame for his newspaper columns in the Houston Chronicle and his speeches throughout America, was born in Perth Amboy, New Jersey, the son of a merchant who moved his family to Lufkin and expected his son to follow in his footsteps.

Instead, Morris started writing sports for his hometown newspaper, the Lufkin Daily News, joined the Houston Post as a feature writer in 1937, and later signed up with the Chronicle as a columnist. With his broad smile, boisterous laugh and ever-present cowboy hat, Morris soon became one of America’s foremost masters of ceremonies.

“He had a following of countless friends, colleagues, famous people and just plain folks who came to know him by reading his stories and columns…or laughed at his harmless barbs that spared no one–not celebrities, not Supreme Court justices, stars of sports, not those in the high places of government and business,” wrote a long-time friend, John Murphy, a former executive vice-president of the Texas Daily Newspaper Association.

Morris seldom made a speech without mentioning his roots as a sportswriter in Lufkin or his love of East Texas.

But it was his kindness that endeared him to people.

He scrawled thousands of letters in his big, sprawling handwriting, thanking people for acts of kindness, showing sympathy for the lost of family members, congratulating someone for a promotion, getting married, or anything else that he thought was important.

When I was a young newspaperman in Lufkin, and the Chronicle decided to establish a bureau in East Texas, Morris suggested to the Chronicle’s editor, Clayte Binion, who also came from Lufkin, that I would make a good bureau chief.

I still have Morris’ handwritten note congratulating me on the job and I cherish my visits with him in the Chronicle’s city room, where he had a desk with everyone else. If he ever had a private office, he didn’t use it much. He didn’t like to be too removed from crowds, and he always found one in the city room.

Morris was also modest to the core. He once said: “I wouldn’t mind being broke if I were just broke even.”

When someone suggested that he write a book, he said; Well, I have thought about it. And I have a couple of titles in mind: Some of My Best Friends Are Gentiles and Self-Made Failure.”

Once, he was chided for eating ham at a luncheon even though he was Jewish. His retort was: “Listen, my daddy told me it was a worse sin to pass up a free meal than it was to eat ham.”

Morris was always paid for his speeches, but he invariably left a tip for his waiter that was larger than the check he was given. And when he agreed to make speeches in Lufkin, he refused to accept any check. “I don’t want the people of Lufkin thinking they had to pay for any of those sorry sports stories I wrote for their paper,” he quipped.

On July 16, 1975, the day after Morris passed away, the Chronicle published an editorial praising him for his qualities. The editorial concluded with these words: “Will Rogers has often been quoted as saying he never met a man he didn’t like. That was the way it was with Morris Frank, but there was more. With Morris, there never was a person he didn’t love.”

All Things Historical 
July 11, 2005 Column
(Provided as a public service by the East Texas Historical Association. Bob Bowman is a past president of the Asssociation and the author of more than 30 East Texas books.)