John Franco

Last updated
John Franco
John Franco 2008-09-28.jpg
Franco on September 28, 2008, the final game at Shea Stadium
Pitcher
Born: (1960-09-17) September 17, 1960 (age 60)
Brooklyn, New York
Batted: LeftThrew: Left
MLB debut
April 24, 1984, for the Cincinnati Reds
Last MLB appearance
July 1, 2005, for the Houston Astros
MLB statistics
Games pitched 1,119
Win–loss record 90–87
Earned run average 2.89
Strikeouts 975
Saves 424
Teams
Career highlights and awards

John Anthony Franco (born September 17, 1960) is an American former professional baseball player. [1] He played in Major League Baseball as a left-handed relief pitcher between 1984 and 2005. Franco established himself as an All-Star player with the Cincinnati Reds before spending the majority of his career with the New York Mets. He ended his 22-year career with one final season with the Houston Astros.

Contents

Franco's 1,119 career games pitched is a National League record, and ranks fourth in major league history. His 424 career saves ranks fifth all-time in major league history (ranking second when he retired), and remains the most by a left-hander. For 15 of his 22 seasons, he played for the New York Mets, serving as team captain in his final years with the team. Franco was inducted into the New York Mets Hall of Fame in 2012. [2]

Early life

Franco grew up in the Gravesend [3] section of Brooklyn. His father, Jim Franco, was a New York City Department of Sanitation worker who encouraged his son's baseball aspirations; Franco honored his father by wearing an orange Sanitation Department work-shirt under his jersey. John graduated from Lafayette High School in Brooklyn and St. John's University in Queens, where he pitched two no-hitters in his freshman year. In 1980, he played collegiate summer baseball with the Cotuit Kettleers of the Cape Cod Baseball League. [4]

Personal life

John is married to his high school sweetheart, Rose, whom he has known since he was 17. [5] They have three children: J.J., Nicole and Ella.

His son J.J. Franco, who was drafted by the Mets out of high school, attended Brown University, where he played as an infielder. [6] J.J. was drafted by the Atlanta Braves in the 2014 MLB draft and played with the Braves and Mets farm teams through the 2018 season. [7]

Throughout his career, Franco supplied tickets to members of the Bonnano crime family of the American Mafia, and on one occasion Canadian organized crime figures, according to FBI documents made public in 2004. There was no suggestion that he committed any crimes, but his behavior was a violation of Major League Baseball rules forbidding contact with known criminals. [8] [9] [10]

Career

John Franco at Citi Field in 2014. John Franco 2014.jpg
John Franco at Citi Field in 2014.

Franco was originally selected by the Los Angeles Dodgers on June 8, 1981 in the 5th round of the amateur draft. Before reaching the major leagues, he was traded to the Cincinnati Reds on May 9, 1983 with Brett Wise for Rafael Landestoy. Landestoy batted under .200 before retiring the following year while Franco was a star reliever for much of the next two decades. Franco debuted with the Reds on April 24, 1984. Franco was a traditional relief pitcher with a "90-mph fastball and a change-up that breaks away from a righthanded batter like a screwball." [5]

Throughout his six seasons with the Reds, Franco was a successful closer, winning the National League Rolaids Relief Man of the Year Award in 1988. He helped the Reds finish second four seasons in a row (1985–1988).

On December 6, 1989, at the age of 29, he was traded with Don Brown to the Mets for Randy Myers and Kip Gross. He remained with the Mets organization until the end of the 2004 season. During his time with the Mets, he won the Rolaids Relief Man of the Year Award in 1990, became team captain, and remained the closer until 1999, when he moved to a setup role for new closer Armando Benítez. He led the league in saves for the 1988, 1990, and 1994 seasons. He reached the postseason for the first time in 1999 and the World Series in 2000.

On May 11, 1996, in a game against the Chicago Cubs, the Mets held "John Franco Day" to celebrate his 300th career save. In the fifth inning, a brawl that cleared both benches and bullpens resulted in Franco being ejected from the game, along with eight other players.

Injuries caused Franco to miss the 2002 baseball season, but he made a successful recovery from surgery and returned in June 2003. He signed a one-year contract for the 2004 season. He finished with a 2-7 record with 36 strikeouts and a 5.28 ERA in 46 innings.

In January 2005, he was signed to a one-year deal with the Astros, at the age of 44, making him at that time the oldest active pitcher in Major League Baseball. On July 1, 2005, Franco was designated for assignment, and he was subsequently released, which proved to be the end of his baseball career.

Media

Franco appeared on the television show Pros vs. Joes during season three.

During an interview, he revealed that he threw a circle changeup which was often mistaken for a screwball. [11]

Honors

Franco was inducted into the Staten Island Sports Hall of Fame in 2008. He was also inducted into the National Italian American Sports Hall of Fame in 2008. [12]

On March 29, 2009, Franco threw the ceremonial first pitch in the first game played on Citi Field, a Big East college game between St. John's (his alma mater) and Georgetown.

On June 3, 2012, in a ceremony at Citi Field, Franco was inducted into the New York Mets Hall of Fame. [13]

Career accomplishments

See also

Related Research Articles

Hoyt Wilhelm American baseball player

James Hoyt Wilhelm, nicknamed "Old Sarge", was an American Major League Baseball pitcher with the New York Giants, St. Louis Cardinals, Cleveland Indians, Baltimore Orioles, Chicago White Sox, California Angels, Atlanta Braves, Chicago Cubs, and Los Angeles Dodgers between 1952 and 1972. Wilhelm was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1985.

Rollie Fingers American baseball player

Roland Glen "Rollie" Fingers is an American retired professional baseball pitcher who played 17 seasons in Major League Baseball for the Oakland Athletics (1968–1976), San Diego Padres (1977–1980), and Milwaukee Brewers (1981–1985). Fingers's effectiveness as a relief pitcher helped redefine the value of relievers within baseball and helped usher in the modern closer role. He is a three-time World Series champion, a seven-time All-Star, a four-time Rolaids Relief Man of the Year, and a three-time MLB saves leader. Fingers won the American League's (AL) Most Valuable Player Award and Cy Young Award in 1981.

Mariano Rivera Panamanian-American baseball player

Mariano Rivera is a Panamanian-American former professional baseball pitcher who played 19 seasons in Major League Baseball (MLB) for the New York Yankees, from 1995 to 2013. Nicknamed "Mo" and "Sandman", he spent most of his career as a relief pitcher and served as the Yankees' closer for 17 seasons. A thirteen-time All-Star and five-time World Series champion, he is MLB's career leader in saves (652) and games finished (952). Rivera won five American League (AL) Rolaids Relief Man Awards and three Delivery Man of the Year Awards, and he finished in the top three in voting for the AL Cy Young Award four times. He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame as part of its class of 2019 in his first year of eligibility, and was the first player ever to be elected unanimously by the Baseball Writers' Association of America (BBWAA).

John Smoltz American professional baseball player, pitcher, sportscaster

John Andrew Smoltz, nicknamed "Smoltzie" and "Marmaduke," is an American former baseball pitcher who played 22 seasons in Major League Baseball from 1988 to 2009, all but the last year with the Atlanta Braves. An eight-time All-Star, Smoltz was part of a celebrated trio of starting pitchers, along with Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine, who propelled Atlanta to perennial pennant contention in the 1990s, highlighted by a championship in the 1995 World Series. He won the National League (NL) Cy Young Award in 1996 after posting a record of 24–8, equaling the most victories by an NL pitcher since 1972. Though predominantly known as a starter, Smoltz was converted to a reliever in 2001 after his recovery from Tommy John surgery, and spent four years as the team's closer before returning to a starting role. In 2002, he set the NL record with 55 saves and became only the second pitcher in history to record both a 20-win season and a 50-save season. He is the only pitcher in major league history to record both 200 wins and 150 saves.

Dennis Eckersley American baseball player and analyst

Dennis Lee Eckersley, nicknamed "Eck", is an American former professional baseball pitcher and current New England Sports Network (NESN) part-time color commentator. Between 1975 and 1998, he pitched in Major League Baseball (MLB) for the Cleveland Indians, Boston Red Sox, Chicago Cubs, Oakland Athletics, and St. Louis Cardinals. Eckersley had success as a starter, but gained his greatest fame as a closer, becoming the first of two pitchers in MLB history to have both a 20-win season and a 50-save season in a career.

Tug McGraw American baseball player

Frank Edwin "Tug" McGraw Jr. was an American professional baseball relief pitcher and long-time Major League Baseball (MLB) player, often remembered for coining the phrase "Ya Gotta Believe", which became the rallying cry for the 1973 New York Mets. He recorded the final out of the 1980 World Series against the Kansas City Royals, via a strikeout of Willie Wilson, thereby bringing the Philadelphia Phillies their first such championship and ending a 97-year drought. He was the last active big league player to have played under legendary manager Casey Stengel.

Bruce Sutter American baseball player

Howard Bruce Sutter is an American former professional baseball pitcher who played 12 seasons in Major League Baseball (MLB) between 1976 and 1988. He was one of the sport's dominant relievers in the late 1970s and early 1980s, making effective use of the split-finger fastball. A six-time All-Star and 1982 World Series champion, Sutter recorded a 2.83 career earned run average and 300 saves, the third-most in MLB history at the time of his retirement. Sutter won the National League's (NL) Cy Young Award in 1979 as its top pitcher, and won the NL Rolaids Relief Man Award four times. He became the only pitcher to lead the NL in saves five times.

Lee Smith (baseball) American baseball player

Lee Arthur Smith is an American former professional baseball pitcher who played 18 years in Major League Baseball (MLB) for eight teams. Serving mostly as a relief pitcher during his career, he was a dominant closer and held the major league record for career saves from 1993 until 2006, when Trevor Hoffman passed his total of 478. Smith was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame as part of the class of 2019 by the Today's Game Era Committee.

Rick Aguilera American baseball player

Richard Warren Aguilera is an American former professional baseball player and coach. He played in the Major League Baseball as a right-handed pitcher from 1985 to 2000. Aguilera won a world championship as a member of the New York Mets in 1986 then, won a second world championship as a member of the Minnesota Twins in 1991. He also played for the Boston Red Sox and the Chicago Cubs. In 2008, Aguilera was inducted into the Minnesota Twins Hall of Fame.

John Wetteland American baseball player

John Karl Wetteland is an American former baseball pitcher who played 12 seasons in Major League Baseball (1989–2000). He pitched for four teams: the Los Angeles Dodgers, Montreal Expos, New York Yankees, and Texas Rangers. A relief pitcher, Wetteland specialized as a closer, recording 330 saves during his career. With the Yankees, he won the 1996 World Series over the Atlanta Braves and won the World Series Most Valuable Player Award for saving four games in the series. After his playing career, he served as a coach for the Washington Nationals and Seattle Mariners. In 2019, Wetteland was arrested and indicted on charges of sexually abusing a child under the age of 14.

Billy Wagner American baseball player

William Edward Wagner, nicknamed "Billy the Kid", is an American former professional baseball pitcher who played 16 seasons in Major League Baseball (MLB). He pitched for the Houston Astros (1995–2003), Philadelphia Phillies (2004–2005), New York Mets (2006–2009), Boston Red Sox (2009), and Atlanta Braves (2010). Wagner is one of only six major league relief pitchers to accumulate at least 400 career saves. A left-handed batter and thrower, Wagner stands 5 feet 10 inches (1.78 m) tall and weighs 180 pounds (82 kg).

Trevor Hoffman American baseball player

Trevor William Hoffman is an American former professional baseball relief pitcher who played 18 years in Major League Baseball (MLB) from 1993 to 2010. A long-time closer, he pitched for the Florida Marlins, San Diego Padres, and Milwaukee Brewers, including more than 15 years for the Padres. Hoffman was the major leagues' first player to reach the 500- and 600-save milestones, and was the all-time saves leader from 2006 until 2011. He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2018. Hoffman currently serves as senior advisor for baseball operations for the Padres.

Jesse Orosco American baseball player

Jesse Russell Orosco is a Mexican American former relief pitcher in Major League Baseball who holds the major league record for career pitching appearances, having pitched in 1,252 games. He pitched most notably for the New York Mets in the 1980s and made the NL All-Star team in 1983 and 1984. He won a World Series in 1986 with the Mets and in 1988 with the Dodgers. He threw left-handed, but batted right-handed. He retired in 2003 after having been with the Mets, Dodgers, Cleveland Indians, Milwaukee Brewers, Baltimore Orioles, St. Louis Cardinals, San Diego Padres, New York Yankees, and Minnesota Twins. He retired when he was 46 years old, one of the oldest players to still be playing in the modern age. Orosco is one of only 29 players in baseball history to date to have appeared in Major League games in four decades.

Jeff Montgomery (baseball) American baseball player

Jeffrey Thomas Montgomery is a former Major League Baseball relief pitcher. During a 13-year baseball career, he pitched from 1987–1999, pitching primarily for the Kansas City Royals.

Jeff Russell American baseball player

Jeffrey Lee Russell is a former Major League Baseball pitcher who played 14 years from 1983 to 1996. Russell played for the Cincinnati Reds of the National League and the Texas Rangers, Oakland A's, Boston Red Sox and Cleveland Indians, all of the American League. He began his career as a starting pitcher with the Reds and Rangers, but was later converted into a closer.

Darren James Dreifort is an American former Major League Baseball pitcher for the Los Angeles Dodgers.

José Valverde Dominican baseball pitcher

José Rafael Valverde is a Dominican professional baseball pitcher who is a free agent. He has played 12 seasons in Major League Baseball (MLB) for the Arizona Diamondbacks, Houston Astros, Detroit Tigers, and New York Mets. He is nicknamed "Papa Grande."

Wayne Granger American baseball player

Wayne Allan Granger is a former Major League Baseball right-handed relief pitcher who played for the St. Louis Cardinals, Cincinnati Reds (1969–1971), Minnesota Twins (1972), New York Yankees (1973), Chicago White Sox (1974), Houston Astros (1975) and Montreal Expos (1976). The 6–4, 165-pound Granger was one of baseball's most effective and durable relief pitchers during the early years of Cincinnati's famed Big Red Machine.

300 save club

In Major League Baseball (MLB), the 300 save club is the group of pitchers who have recorded 300 or more regular-season saves in their careers. Most commonly a relief pitcher earns a save by being the final pitcher of a game in which his team is winning by three or fewer runs and pitching at least one inning without losing the lead. The final pitcher of a game can earn a save by getting at least one batter out to end the game with the winning run on base, at bat, or on deck, or by pitching the last three innings without relinquishing the lead, regardless of score. The statistic was created by Jerome Holtzman in 1959 to "measure the effectiveness of relief pitchers" and was adopted as an official statistic by MLB in 1969. The save has been retroactively measured for past pitchers where applicable. Hoyt Wilhelm retired in 1972 and recorded just 31 saves from 1969 onwards, for example, but holds 228 total career saves.

Rolaids Relief Man Award

The Rolaids Relief Man Award was an annual Major League Baseball (MLB) award given from 1976 to 2012 to the top relief pitchers of the regular season, one in the American League (AL) and one in the National League (NL). Relief pitchers enter the game after the starting pitcher is removed. The award was sponsored by the antacid brand Rolaids, whose slogan was "R-O-L-A-I-D-S spells relief." Because the first closers were nicknamed "firemen", a reference to "putting out the fire" of another team's rally, the trophy was a gold-plated firefighter's helmet. Unlike other awards, such as the Cy Young Award or the MLB Most Valuable Player (MVP) Award, the Relief Man was based on statistical performance, rather than votes. Each save was worth three points; each win was worth two points; and each loss was worth negative two points. Beginning with the 1987 MLB season, negative two points were given for blown saves. In the 2000 MLB season, the term "tough save", which was worth an additional point, was introduced by Rolaids. A "tough save" happened when a relief pitcher entered the game already having the potential tying run on base, and got the save. The player with the highest point total won the award.

References

  1. "John Franco statistics". Baseball Reference. Retrieved 26 January 2020.
  2. "New York Mets Hall of Fame". mlb.com. Retrieved 26 January 2020.
  3. Franco, John. "Subject". Italian American Podcast. Italian American Podcast. Retrieved 20 February 2019.
  4. "Major League Baseball Players From the Cape Cod League" (PDF). capecodbaseball.org. Retrieved September 25, 2019.
  5. 1 2 Hersch, Hank (May 15, 1989). "A Hometown Hero". Sports Illustrated . Archived from the original on December 31, 2013. Retrieved March 8, 2012.
  6. Fitzpatrick, Mike (June 4, 2012). "Mets induct John Franco into team's Hall of Fame". Yahoo Sports . Associated Press. Archived from the original on June 8, 2012. Retrieved March 1, 2015.
  7. "J.J. Franco Stats, Highlights, Bio". MiLB.com. Retrieved December 19, 2020.
  8. "Mobster Told F.B.I. Franco Gave Him Tickets, Lee Jenkins & William Rashbaum, NY Times 29 October 2004
  9. "Feds: Mets' Franco Was a Mob Pal," John Marzulli, NY Daily News, 29 October 2004,
  10. "Mets' Great Franco Got Chummy With Mob," Jerry Capeci, NY Sun 28 October 2004
  11. "Video: John Franco on Mets Hot Stove" . Retrieved January 28, 2012.
  12. "John Franco". National Italian American Sports Hall of Fame. February 10, 2013.
  13. Miller, Steven. "On Sunday, John Franco became the 26th member of the Mets Hall of Fame in a pregame ceremony. | mets.com". Newyork.mets.mlb.com. Retrieved 2016-03-01.