Sam Fraley: A player to root for …

If Sam Fraley does his job well for Temple’s football team this fall, nobody will notice and that’s a good thing.

That’s because Fraley has a chance to be the Owls’ long snapper and that’s a position that’s been a disaster ever since the Lerch Brothers left town.

I have a personal reason to root for Sam because he is the son of a former colleague at The Philadelphia Bulletin, Gerry Fraley, who unfortunately will not be around to see him play at Temple. I got to The Bulletin a little before him, working high school sports under Bob Savitt and Julius Thompson but got to know him through my Bulletin friends.

Sam Fraley

Sam, his son, also shares my middle name: Gerard. (Which was Sam’s first name.) He’s not only had to overcome a rare disorder (see video above) but his dad died two years ago so he’s had a lot to deal with and deserves any success that comes his way.

Gerry passed away at the young age of 64 in 2019 after becoming one of the best sports writers in the country. When the Bulletin folded, he left for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and then the Dallas Morning News. He was President of the Baseball Writers Association of America.

Gerry’s Phillies coverage was unmatched.

Later, when I would cover the Phillies a few springs for the Doylestown Intelligencer in Fraley’s home town of Clearwater, Gerry and I would have several late-night conversations after I filed my stories underneath the old Jack Russell Stadium. No nicer guy in the business. We drove to the Strawberry Festival in Plant City to catch up with Pete Rose. When we both approached Steve Carlton in the locker room in Clearwater, he waved us off.

Carlton growled. We laughed.

At least we tried.

Now his son has made it to Philadelphia.

Chances are Temple has never had a player from Redwood City, California but Fraley has Temple and Philadelphia running through his blood.

Back when Gerry was writing up a storm about the Phillies for The Bulletin, the competing Daily News had an all-star staff of columnists (Tom Cushman, Mark Whicker, Stan Hochman) and Temple’s own Dick “Hoops” Weiss to cover The Big Five and other fellow Temple News former sports editors, Phil Jasner, to cover the Sixers, and Hall of Famer Ray Didinger to cover the Eagles.

The Bulletin had Sandy Grady as a columnist and The Inquirer countered with Frank Dolson and Bill Lyon.

Those were the halcyon days of sports writing in Philadelphia. The DN cost 25 cents and I probably would have paid $10 per issue. Now the DN costs $2.95 and it’s probably not worth 25 cents.

According to Owlsports.com, the school’s official roster lists Fraley as wearing No. 46.

I will be looking for him through my binoculars and rooting for him. For his sake, I hope I’m the only one who notices.

Somewhere, I think Gerry would understand that take.

Monday: Pay to Play?