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  • Writer's pictureDan Russoman

Karl Frantz recalled fondly

Karl Frantz

HAMMONTON—Longtime Hammonton High School teacher and coach Karl Frantz died on January 7 at the age of 84, surrounded by his family.

Frantz was beloved by the students he taught, players he guided and coaches he worked with. Many had high praise for someone who was known for being disciplined and “old school.”

“He was our gym teacher in high school. Everything he did was disciplined,” Frank LaSasso III said.

LaSasso recalled Frantz as both an excellent teacher and coach who left an impact on all the students he worked with.

“I had him for gym my sophomore year. Gym class was before lunch. After class, we would do quarterback drills for 15 minutes then he would give me a hall pass to go to lunch late. He helped me start at quarterback my junior year until I broke my neck in the first scrimmage. Then in spring, he wanted me to coach first base but the AD didn’t approve it,” LaSasso said.

Later, LaSasso became a coach at Hammonton and saw a different side of Frantz.

“When I coached with him, I saw a different side. He was old school and wasn’t going to change, but he was a great guy. He joked and we had a lot of fun,” LaSasso said.

Frantz was a believer in physical fitness and nutrition, something he stressed with anyone, young or old.

“He and my dad were really good friends, and I tell the story that he tried to get my dad to lift weights. My dad always did sit ups, push-ups, that stuff. Finally, after Karl kept on him, he said, ‘All right, let’s go,’ and he gave in to lifting weights,” LaSasso said.

Frantz served many years as an assistant coach on Pete Lancetta’s staff with Hammonton’s football team.

“It’s so sad to hear,” Lancetta said of Frantz’ death.

Hammonton’s former coach had recently paid a visit to Frantz.

“I did stop at the house a couple months ago, talked to him and Dora Lee. Very sad to hear. A great man he was. He was very helpful to me when I first came to Hammonton, took me under his wing and helped me out and he wasn’t coaching anything at the time and ended helping with football and track again,” Lancetta said.

Lancetta said he served as a mentor and teacher to both players and other coaches.

“He was very set in his ways, rule-oriented and strict, always. Back then, it was Clyde Folsom, me, my brother, Pat [Lancetta], Gary Sarno and Matt Lenguadoro. Ron Caputo helped out, too. He [Frantz] was strict, but those guys would loosen him up a little. They’d say things to get him going and he’d always answer, ‘What’s wrong with you?’ That was his saying. But he was a great help. He was a wing-T guy, having played at Delaware, and he helped us put it in at Hammonton. Just a great teacher and mentor not only to me, but to a lot of coaches,” Lancetta said.

Former Hammonton athletic director Mike Gatley also fondly recalled Frantz.

“Every memory I have of Karl is nothing but positive. Just the talks with him about coaching and conditioning, he was such a big one on taking care of his body eating right,” Gatley said.

Gatley also spoke about Frantz’s legacy at Hammonton.

“Much like Jack Rehmann, he was iconic to me in reference to Hammonton High School and Hammonton athletics. Just a big loss; a really good guy,” Gatley said.

Frantz was known as a coach, but was also an excellent teacher who was well-respected among his students and always looked to have a positive impact on their lives.

“I hold him as high as anybody as far as impacting kids academically and athletically,” Gatley said.

And while he was known for being strict, Frantz also had a soft side and could crack a joke with the best of them.

“We would laugh every single day. He was always fun to be around. He was filled with wisdom and he’d share it with you if you wanted to hear it or not. I loved him. We all did. Sometimes it was hard for him to relate to kids but they all laughed and respected him and they listened to him,” Lancetta said

Known by many as “Coach,” Frantz was born in Scranton, Pa., and raided in Audubon Park. He graduated from Audubon High School in 1956, where he was an excellent athlete, where he earned four varsity letters in both football and baseball, as well as three in basketball.

Frantz earned All-South Jersey and All-State honors in 1955, helping lead the Green Wave’s football team to a conference title. He also earned All-State honors in baseball in 1955 and 1956. Frantz also won a state championship in 1954 with Brooklawn Post #72, playing for legendary baseball coach Joe Barth, St.

Frantz went on to excel at the University of Delaware, where he earned his Bachelor’s Degree. Always a proud alum, Frantz played football and baseball for the Blue Hens, earning six varsity letters. Following his graduation, Frantz was signed by the Milwaukee Braves and played two seasons of minor league baseball.

In 1963, he began his teaching career at Delsea High School and served as an assistant football coach, helping John Oberg build the Crusaders into one of the region’s top programs. Delsea went undefeated (9-0) in 1968.

In 1969, Frantz accepted a teaching position at Hammonton High School and remained there until his retirement in 1998. He served as an assistant football coach, helping the Blue Devils win 10 Cape Atlantic League titles as well as three South Jersey championships. He compiled a 64-31-1 record as Hammonton’s baseball coach from 1975-79, and a 40-29-1 record as the school’s track coach during two different stints.

Frantz has been inducted into the South Jersey Baseball Hall of Fame as well as the Audubon and Hammonton High School Halls of Fame.

He is survived by his wife, Dora Lee, sons Dr. Frazier Frantz, MD and Retired Lieutenant Colonel Michael E. Frantz and their wives, six siblings and 10 grandchildren.

Relatives and friends were invited to attend his viewing at Marinella Funeral Home in Hammonton on January 11 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. and also on January 12, from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. Funeral services were celebrated at 11 a.m. at the funeral home. Burial followed at Greenmount Cemetery, 124 First Road, Hammonton.


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