After years of competing at the highest level in area golf events, Frank Frontino is enjoying yet another banner year.
While many of the local two-ball tournaments this year have been won by area golfers in their 20s and 30s, Frontino has teamed to win two best-ball events this summer - the Ebensburg two-ball tournament in June with Jeff Tomallo and the Iron Masters Classic in July with long-time partner Bernie DiLoreto.
These two wins only add to a long list of golfing accomplishments Frontino has achieved over the years. The feats are even more amazing when you discover his age - Frontino celebrated his 61st birthday last October.
Maybe it's not so surprising, though, that Frontino continues to compete at such a high level, for he has lived a life full of impressive athletic accomplishments.
Frontino was born and raised in Spangler and attended Northern Cambria High School, where he was a star on both the baseball and basketball teams.
As a junior in 1965, Frontino was a starter on the Colts' basketball team that won the state championship. This Northern Cambria squad, which also featured Ken Anderson, Greg Kuhn and brothers Joe and Tony Nastasi, was honored this year by the Cambria County Sports Hall of Fame on the 45th anniversary of their feat.
A good basketball player, Frontino was even better at baseball. After graduating high school in 1966, Frontino was signed by the Dodgers as a third baseman and reported to spring training in 1967.
Although he didn't make the roster, another opportunity came his way later in the year.
"In September of 1967, I got the chance to go to Forbes Field to workout for the Pirates as a pitcher," he said. "The workout went really well, and I was signed that same day."
In spring training the following year, Frontino was one of 66 pitchers vying for a spot on one of the Pirate's three Class A minor league teams.
Despite his long odds, Frank made the team and excelled. In his second year, he posted an impressing 1.93 ERA while being groomed as a relief pitcher.
In 1971, Frontino was moved to the starting rotation as a member of Class AA Waterbury. He started the season with a 10-inning shutout and followed this with another strong outing. His next outing was stretched much longer than expected when the game went to extra innings.
On a 3-2 pitch to (future major leaguer) Bob Boone, Frontino felt a pop in his elbow.
The tendon damage to his right arm was treated as well as could be expected for the time, but Frontino never fully recovered.
Even though he advanced to Triple-A for a few years with some success, Frontino's career ended in 1974.
Having played alongside future Pirate stars like Bruce Kison, Frank Taveras and Richie Zisk, Frontino remembers his playing days fondly.
"The players back then were a really tight-knit group," he said. "I met guys who are still some of my closest friends to this day."
Returning home after his playing days, Frontino eventually began a career with PennDot in Ebensburg (he recently retired from there after 33 years of service). His athletic interests at that time turned to the game of golf.
While taking no lessons, Frontino practiced the game feverishly at nearby Cambrian Hills golf course. By the 1980s his game had improved significantly, and he began playing at Ebensburg Country Club where the competition was stiff.
Frontino was up to the challenge as he won six club championships in a span of seven years.
In the 1980s, longtime friend Dave DeGol of Hollidaysburg convinced Frontino to join Scotch Valley Country Club. He has been a member there ever since.
Over the years, Frontino has compiled an impressive resume among area golfers.
He has won multiple club championships at both Ebensburg Country Club and Scotch Valley. In addition, he's partnered with DiLoreto, John Zack, John Miraglia and Bill Marryweather to win nearly every major two-ball event in the area.
Frontino also won the individual title at the prestigious Greater Altoona Tournament on two occasions - 1991 and 2000. He also competes in Sunnehanna's Senior Invitational, a tournament that includes some of the best senior golfers in the country. Last September, Frontino finished this tournament just one shot out of the lead.
DeGol has been impressed with Frontino's ability for a long time.
"Frank is one of the best athletes I've ever met. He also has an amazing ability to concentrate," DeGol said. "We play together regularly on Thursdays and Sundays, and I would say that 75 percent of the time he shoots in the 60s."
With all the success he's accomplished in baseball and golf over the years, Frontino values the friendships he's forged over the years ahead of everything else.
Former Northern Bedford football coach Joe Nastasi has known Frontino since childhood.
"We grew up near Frank and went to school together," Nastasi said. "It's hard to explain our friendship. We really grew up as brothers. As kids, we'd go to get our hair cut at his father's barber shop.
"When we were there, we'd always have to stop and see his mother Minnie, who would insist that we stay for dinner - just like we were part of the family."
Nastasi, along with his twin brother Tony, have remained friends for life and are amazed as any at his continuing athletic prowess.
"He's playing as well as he's ever played," Joe Nastasi said.
Ron Hinish of East Freedom competed against Frontino a couple of weeks ago during the Iron Masters Classic.
"It's hard to believe he's 61 years old," Hinish said. "He's amazing. He's as competitive as he's ever been."