Twenty-one-year-old Frank Baker is an investment banker (well, almost). The last two summers he worked at Goldman Sachs, one of the top lemon squeezers in the world of high-finance juicing, analyzing bond issues. He's becoming a star at it. Says Stuart Fuchs, a vice-president in Goldman's municipal-finance department, "Frank's performance on the job compares favorably with people having more work experience and graduate-level education. He has remarkable presence for someone so young. Best of all, he's not too taken with himself."
At the University of Chicago, Baker is already a supernova. A bruising fullback with the brains of a college professor, he finished his football career last Saturday by rushing for 190 yards on 25 carries in a 33-16 win over Case Western Reserve. The 5'11", 210-pound Baker, a Rhodes scholar candidate with a 3.7 grade point average, set Chicago career records for most rushing attempts (855), rushing yards (4,283) and total offense (4,350 yards) and ended up second in career touchdowns scored (26). Baker was also one of this year's team captains. "Frank is a great role model," says Greg Quick, the team coach. "The leadership abilities and confidence he learns making million-dollar deals help him on the field."
Baker played only one season of high school football, his senior year at Lahser High in swank Bloomfield Hills, Mich. He focused instead on hockey, at which he was all-state. He did consider attending Michigan to play hockey, but chose Chicago, a Division III school, because he could play football while testing himself against some of the world's brightest teaching minds. Sixty-four people associated with the university have won Nobel Prizes, and seven faculty members are Nobel laureates. "Your mind is like a muscle," says Baker, an economics major. "You use it and it develops." Last year he got one of only a few A's that Sherwin Rosen, chairman of the economics department, handed out in his labor-economics class. "He got no special treatment from me," says Rosen. "He could be whatever he wants—lawyer, businessman, politician. He's got the world by the rear. Besides, when I watch football, I watch Notre Dame."
So, no doubt, do a lot of folks at Chicago. The Maroons went 1-9, 0-10, 3-7 during Baker's first three years. This season they finished 5-5 thanks largely to an improved offensive line that helped Baker set the school's single-season rushing record, with 1,606 yards. His bone-jarring thrusts up the middle and his ability to shake off arm tackles were keys to the assault. "I've never seen anybody bring him down one-on-one," says Maroon quarterback Joseph McCoy. Remember, of course, that this is Chicago. Baker runs the 40 in 4.8. You can forget about him becoming NFL prime beef. "I'm not interested in being a long shot to make a pro team's practice squad," says Baker, who this time next year will likely be at either Oxford or Goldman.
No matter where he ends up, he intends to "make a lot of money for somebody someday." Wealth, his economics books tell him, is to be joyfully pursued. There should be conscience and gratitude—his parents have hammered him about the need to give back to the community—but if you go hard after money, it gives you the power to change things. "I could help five kids after school with their arithmetic at a church," says Baker. "Or I could make enough money to start a foundation and direct others to help hundreds of kids. Maybe thousands." He smiles and says, "I'd rather think big."
The University of Chicago fullback is cutting out a rich future for himself off the playing field.