The West Liberty University community is mourning the passing of WLU Hall of Famer Frank Ujcich, a key figure on the Hilltoppers’ 1964 NAIA national championship baseball team. Ujcich passed away Wednesday at his home in Wellsburg, W.Va., a few days short of his 71st birthday.
A 2000 inductee into the West Liberty University Hall of Fame, Frank carved out a dazzling collegiate baseball career for the Black and Gold from 1962-65. The hard-throwing pitcher compiled a 27-7 record on the mound with a sub-2.00 ERA during his time on the hilltop. He was honored in 1974 with a spot on the West Virginia Conference’s All-Time Baseball Team.
The highlight of Frank’s career came in 1964 when he helped lead West Liberty to a national baseball championship in the NAIA World Series at St. Joseph, Mo. The workhorse of the West Liberty staff, Frank hurled 22 2/3 consecutive scoreless innings during the tournament, a record that is still on the books a half-century later.
Frank was voted MVP of the 1964 NAIA World Series. A plaque commemorating his accomplishment is still displayed on the walls of the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y. After graduating from West Liberty in 1966, he played two years of minor-league baseball in the New York Mets organization before returning to the valley.
Following a brief stint as a teacher and coach at Wheeling Central Catholic High School, where he led the Maroon Knights to a state baseball title, Frank left the field of education for a few years to start his own construction company. He returned to teaching in 1982 as the building and construction teacher at Brooke High School, eventually rising to the position of Vocational Director at Brooke. Frank was elected to the Brooke County Board of Education following his retirement and remained a member of that board until his death.
Frank is survived by his wife of 50 years, Mary Lou, and their three children, Daniel, Paula and Jeanne, along with two brothers, Michael and Ron, four sisters, Helen, Jacqueline, Olga and Margaret, brother-in-law Matthew Camilletti and four grandchildren, Erin, Joe and Kara Wagstaff and Jillian Ujcich.
Visitation was held on Sunday, July 20, from 1-8 p.m. at the Mullenbach Funeral Home, 669 Main St., Follansbee, W.Va. Mass of Christian burial will be celebrated on Monday, July 21, at 10:30 a.m. at St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church with the Rev. Fr. Dan Pisano as celebrant. Interment will follow in the Aspen Manor Cemetery in Wellsburg, W.Va.
In lieu of flowers the family suggests memorial contributions be made to the Hilltopper Athletic Club Fund, ℅ WLU Foundation, at 208 University Dr., College Union Box 126, West Liberty, W.Va. 26074 or the Valley Hospice at 10686 State Route 150 Rayland, Ohio 43943.