By the time “The Brawl Heard ‘Round the World” blew up baseball on a hot Sunday in 1953, young Dell Franklin had been a regular in Pacific Coast League clubhouses for three years. His father, former major leaguer Murray “Big Moe” Franklin, was in the middle of the fight, near the end of a nearly 20-year career in professional baseball, with a chip on his shoulder that had been there even longer.
Big Moe’s passion for the game was matched only by his fierce pride and determination to shape his son Dell into ballplayer and a man. Before long, Dell’s skills with a bat, glove, and on the bases advanced well beyond his years and Dell’s own baseball career was launched as he developed into one of the top high school players in the baseball hotbed of Southern California.
But other forces were at work both inside and outside young Franklin, forces that began to pull Dell away from his baseball destiny as hard as his dad’s legacy and his own fierce love of the game were pushing him towards it.
The Ballplayer’s Son is full of passion, grit, and heartbreak. It is the story of baseball in the hard-nosed 30s, 40s, and 50s, of a Jewish ballplayer who dealt with bigotry head on, of a devoted dad's burning desire to play in the major leagues. And it is the story of a son who both feared and idolized his father, whose personal journey went from soaring self-confidence to utter despair on the journey to find himself, even if it was a self he barely recognized.