Last week, Philly sportscaster and former National Kevin Frandsen was announced as the new color commentator for the 2022 season, replacing F.P. Santangelo in the booth alongside Bob Carpenter. He’s no stranger to the sportscasting scene, having spent four seasons calling Phillies games on the radio, but his move to television marks his return to the Nationals, where he was an important member of the 2014 NL East championship team. Read on for five things you might not know about our new color commentator:
1. He runs a nonprofit with his family, called 19 for Life, in honor of his younger brother.
Frandsen’s younger brother DJ passed away on September 16, 2004 from cancer, though his family prefers to say that he “retired” from his 19-years-long battle. DJ was 25 years old when he passed. DJ had been a strong supporter of his brother and his baseball career, and after Frandsen broke his collarbone while in the Giants minor league system, he was able to spend more time with his younger brother as he recovered. Frandsen told Lehigh Valley Live in 2012 that: “The collarbone thing was the greatest thing to ever happen to me because I got to spend seven more weeks with him.” For a few seasons after his brother passed, Frandsen wore custom red and yellow Nike cleats with the words “DJ” and “Livestrong” on them.
In honor of his younger brother, Frandsen and his family started the nonprofit organization 19 for Life in 2005, dedicated to helping children and their families cope with serious illness. The organization, named after DJ’s favorite number and birthdate (May 19), organizes an annual bocce tournament fundraiser, funds scholarships at their former high school, and donates to programs at the Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital in Palo Alto, where DJ received treatment.
On the 88th episode of the Half Street High Heat podcast, from January 2021, Frandsen described the organization and his brother: “Our whole thing is to give back and bring the spirit of DJ out. He was a man for others, he was a man that decided that his battle through cancer was no bigger than anyone else’s. And he treated everyone like it was… He just treated everyone perfect, he treated them real, and that’s all you expect.”
You can donate to 19 for Life at this link.
2. Frandsen has played every position except pitcher, catcher, and center fielder at least once during his nine-year career.
According to Baseball Reference, Frandsen has played every position except those listed above at least once in his career, which is no easy feat. Of course, he’s appeared at some spots more frequently than others: he made 128 appearances at 2B, for example, and only 3 appearances in RF. However, Frandsen was a true utilityman, and while with the Nationals, he predominantly played in LF (21 appearances) and at 3B (16 appearances). Earlier in his career, during his initial four-season stint with the Giants from 2006 to 2009, he mainly appeared at 2B (with a high of 49 appearances there in 2007) and at SS (with a high of 22 appearances there in 2007). His knowledge of multiple positions is sure to make his color commentary insightful and informative.
3. Keith Law once (ridiculously) called Frandsen a “disposable player” simply for praising Anthony Rendon over Bryce Harper when asked who the best young player on the Nats was.
During an interview on 106.7 The Fan in 2014, Frandsen was asked who the best young player on the Nats was. Frandsen replied with Rendon, saying: “He is as impressive as any young player; in all honesty, he’s the best young guy we have, by far… I don’t think there’s anyone in the same sentence as him, as far as young guys, and he might be one of the best ones in the league.” After the hosts mentioned Bryce Harper, Frandsen continued to back Rendon, praising his consistency and pop.
Eight years later, we can very firmly say that Frandsen’s reply of Rendon was perfect—after all, Rendon has a ring and was instrumental in the Nats’ 2019 World Series success. Harper, despite being one of the greatest players in the sport today, does not (though he does have two NL MVP awards, so he’s not hurting too badly). Both Rendon and Harper are excellent answers to the question of who the Nats’ best young player would have been in 2014, because they both ended up incredibly successful.
Alas, Frandsen received unnecessary pushback for his answer, with writer Keith Law coming in the strongest. Referring to Frandsen’s answer: “…Frandsen should know better than to say something that stupid. There were better ways to handle the question, and Frandsen talked like a little kid who had never been interviewed by the media before. I’m a little disappointed the Nats didn’t just DFA him on the spot—you don’t need MORE controversy in that clubhouse, certainly not from a disposable player like him.”
Law’s statement was ridiculous and unnecessary both at the time and with the benefit of hindsight now in 2022. Being the bigger person, Frandsen replied eloquently on Twitter that he had “praised [Rendon] not to slight anyone else but to give him some much-deserved recognition” and that it was “frustrating to see a compliment to one teammate be misinterpreted as a slight to another.” Frandsen’s kind words towards his teammate, and his mature response to Law’s unnecessary criticism, are yet another reason why he’s an excellent fit for the Nats.
And Frandsen, in true good guy fashion, continues to praise his former teammates, regardless of affiliation: in an interview with the Washington Post after his announcement as color commentator, he said about Bryce Harper that he’s “had nothing but a hell of a relationship with Bryce. And to see what he’s done and all the stuff in the three years he’s been there… I know Nats fans probably don’t want to hear all that stuff, but the guy has been ridiculous. Just incredible. So I’m going to tell that, and I’m not going to apologize for it because he has been special.” Hear, hear.
4. He’s got a really cute dog.
Frandsen graced us with a picture of his dog, Mays, on Twitter Thursday after tweeting about his new appointment. The look of stern, slight disappointment on Mays’ face says it all—he’s ready to watch the Nationals rebuild this season, and he knows it might be a bit of a bumpy road for a little while. Same, Mays, same. But hey, at least we get Pups in the Park!
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