Book Review: The Ballplayer's Son
by Paul Semendinger
October 15, 2023
The Ballplayer's Son is a baseball book unlike most that I have read (and I have read a ton of baseball books). This book tells the story of Dell Franklin, it is, in essence, his autobiography. Dell Franklin was a standout baseball player throughout his youth and into his young adult years. He was good enough the reach professional ball where he found some success.
Dell is the son of Big Moe Franklin who was, for a short time, before World War II, a Major League player with the Detroit Tigers, and then, after the war, a star in the Pacific Coast League, which in those days was considered a league equal to the Major Leagues, but on the west coast.
The book tells the story both of Big Moe's career, and Dell's as well, while also sharing what it was for Dell to grow up in the shadow of his father, a very good ballplayer, and one whose skills and success Dell would never quite reach. When reading the book, I enjoyed the stories that were told about Big Moe's career - the players he played against and with, and what the big leagues were like in those days. It also tells the experiences of what it was the be a Jewish Major Leaguer in that era.
At the same time the book tells the story of Dell, a very talented ballplayer in his own right, but one who could never quite escape his father's shadow. I saw the passion and determination in this young ballplayer and rooted for him throughout to reach the dreams he had for himself - as well as the dreams his father had for him.
This book also tells of the family dynamics between the very successful father and skilled, but struggling son. We see how these two men related to each other throughout their lives and how the pressure to succeed eventually took a toll on young Dell, his father, and the family.
This book does not glorify baseball, or the life of a ballplayer. It also does not diminish the sport or what it is to share in the love of the game and to know what it is to strive for greatness, individuality, and, eventually to find one's self.
At 288 pages, I found this book to be a quick read, as the story was one that I felt I needed to keep reading about and learning from. This is an honest book. It tells of the very real experience of a son growing up amid the life of a professional athlete who happens to be his father.
I found this book to be engrossing and touching. I found the ending chapters to be a bit of a surprise which only enhanced the overall quality of the story told by Dell Franklin as he looked back, honestly, on the entirely of his life and the choices he made.
I recommend this book to all who love baseball and wish to see a biography that isn't of a well-known player but tells of some bye-gone eras that will probably never be again and the joys and struggles that come from striving to reach and attain a dream. .
From the press release:
"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."