For nearly 50 years, Frank Carbajal has enjoyed building a playing and coaching legacy stretching from Greeley to California in two sports — basketball and baseball.
Born in 1938, he was the 11th and youngest child of the Carbajal family, which in 1910 migrated from Chihuahua, Mexico to Greeley, where family members worked for the Great Western Sugar Company.
Marbles was his first “sport” as a player, but football, basketball, softball and baseball soon followed and Carbajal credits helpful guidance from his school teachers, Greeley Coach Jim Baggot and his surrogate father / brother-in-law, the late Dan Solis, for his subsequent “perseverance” successes.
During his years at Greeley (Central) High School, the Wildcats went to the Colorado
State Basketball Tournament where Carbajal gained All-State honors. In baseball, Greeley was a State runner-up.
At Trinidad State Junior College in 1957, the baseball team won the league title with a 13-0 record highlighted by Carbajal’s pitching a no-hitter against Lamar Junior College. After also winning the conference title, the team finished 4th nationally.
At Colorado State College (now University of Northern Colorado), the 5′ 9″ guard was basketball team captain from 1958-1961 and garnered all-Rocky Mountain Conference and all-NCAA District 7 honors in 1960 and 1961 after compiling a 16.3-point average and topping the Bears in assists both years. He also led the nation most of his senior year with an 87% free throw ledger. In baseball, he was all-RMC in 1959 and 1960, as well as all-NCAA District 7 in 1960, the year CSC beat Utah in the Regional Playoffs.
Carbajal began his coaching career at Moab, UT, High School in 1962, going 49-19 and winning two conference championships. In 1964, he began his semi-pro pitching career at Yankton, SD. He also pitched for the Grand Junction Eagles Summer Team, commuting from Moab. In his first pitches against the Boulder Collegians in the playoffs, he was “terrible,” but then found his form and pitched the Eagles to the Colorado Semi-Pro Championships. His rebound showed Collegians Manager Bauldie Moschetti that he “had the stuff,” so Moschetti recruited him and, in 1966 and 1967, Boulder won the National Semi-Pro Championship.
Carbajal then began coaching at El Camino High School (CA). In 1967-68, his team went 23-0. He launched his collegiate coaching career with the Fresno State junior varsity, where his teams won 183 games and lost 37. Next was Santa Barbara City College where he first coached the junior varsity and then the varsity to four State basketball titles and one runner-up spot. He had five all-American players in the 10 years he coached there.
At the California junior college level, his Deanza team reached the league playoffs in two of his three years. At Hartnell Junior College, his teams qualified for the league playoffs 10 straight years, winning 198 and losing 99 games. He won one California Junior College Championship and had one runner-up finish. In 1996-97, he was president of the Junior College Coaches Association.
Over the years, Carbajal provided many Hispanic youths opportunities to play collegiate basketball, for which he’s often been honored. Victory in sports and promoting a quality of life for people of Hispanic heritage in American society were fundamental to his career. His numerous achievements in both areas are reflected in his book, “On the Outside Looking In,” published in 2011.
When you surround yourself with good players, it’s pretty easy to win.