Frank Blatcher: A Basketball Life
Mr. Frank Blatcher is an 86-year old who splits time between his home in Havertown, Pa. and his condominium in Sarasota, Fl.
He currently enjoys playing the card game “Bridge”, singing opera and going out to dinner with his wife. With four children and nine grandchildren, Frank has found the most joy out of life in his family.
One aspect of Frank’s life that definitely rivals the love he has for his family is the love he has for the game of basketball.
Growing up as the youngest of 13 children during the Great Depression, Blatcher has certainly seen his fair share of adversity.
As a child, he had trouble splitting time going to school and shining shoes to help support his family financially. He grew up in a part of South Philadelphia referred to as “Hell’s Kitchen” where learning to fight is essential.
Blatcher joined the neighborhood boys club to keep himself busy throughout that time in his life and became fascinated with the game of basketball.
By the time he was eligible to try out for his high school basketball team, Frank was cut in his senior season, which ultimately led to his decision to drop out before graduation.
He worked with his father and brother down at the docks as a stevedore. A mentor of his in the crime prevention program encouraged him to go back to high school to get his diploma.
In doing so, Blatcher became the first in his family to graduate high school.
Soon after graduation, Blatcher joined the Navy, but stayed out of combat by competing as a boxer and later, a basketball player.
When Blatcher returned to Philadelphia, he received an offer to play basketball at Temple University. Several weeks before he was ready to enroll, basketball great Paul Arizin talked him into going to LaSalle University, saying that it would be a perfect place to play with a future star in center Tom Gola.
In choosing to play for the Explorers, Blatcher had the opportunity to experience history first hand and become apart of one of the greatest basketball teams the city of Philadelphia has ever seen.
LaSalle, with the help of Gola and Blatcher, won its’ first and only national championship in 1954, taking down Bradley by a score of 92-76 in the championship game.
Blatcher, who was a starter in the regular season, came off the bench in the tournament after the death of his father prevented him from attending practice.
He ended up scoring 19 points in the final four semifinal game and 23 points in the championship game off the bench, a record that still holds true today after 60 years.
The team made it back to the championship game in 1955, but lost to the University of San Fransisco.
Despite problems with his heart and an ongoing battle with cancer of the bladder, Blatcher remains positive and upbeat at all times.
His goal moving forward is to continue to give back and live life to the fullest, making others around him happy along the way.
Although, Blatcher never received the same recognition as Gola, he was recently inducted into the LaSalle hall of athletes, a prestigious honor that he takes great pride in.
Blatcher enjoyed watching the Villanova Wildcats win 2016 NCAA championship this past season because the broadcasters referred to him and his team when talking about basketball history in the city of Philadelphia.
Interestingly enough, Villanova won its’ second national title 31 years after its’ first in 1985. 31 years before Villanova’s first national championship, LaSalle brought the city of Philadelphia and the big five the first national championship ever.
Those are the only three national championships in basketball that Philly teams have won.
About the Contributors
Senior / Broadcast Journalism