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Tom Tangney

Nick Franklin: The latest, greatest Mariner hope

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Seattle Mariners' Nick Franklin watches the fight of his first major league career home run in the sixth inning of a baseball game against the San Diego Padres Thursday, May 30, 2013, in San Diego. (AP Photo/Lenny Ignelzi) | Zoom
Second baseman Nick Franklin had a heck of a first week in the big leagues.

In only his third start for the Mariners, Franklin pulled off something only two Mariners before him ever did at a younger age - hit two homers in a single game. Their names? Alex Rodriguez and Ken Griffey Jr. That's some sweet company for 22-year-old Franklin to be hanging around with.

He's already been dubbed the "Latest, Greatest Mariner Hope."

One blogger has already proposed the nickname "Hercules Godsmash."

So where did this phenom come from and has he always been destined for big things? Well, according to the book, "Class A: Baseball in the Middle of Everywhere," even when Franklin was in his first professional stint as a lowly 19-year-old Clinton LumberKing, he was a cut above his teammates. Even then, a young man apart.

While most of the team made under $15,000 a season, Franklin had a $1 million signing bonus straight out of high school - more money than most of those players will see in their entire careers.

Writer Lucas Mann says Franklin is a naturally confident player, cocky but in a deserving way. Whenever he hit a home run, and he hit a lot of them for the Lumberkings (so many he set a team record that year,) he would round the bases with barely a hint of a smile. Even when it was the game-winning hit, he treated it with a natural nonchalance.

Franklin told Mann the Lumberkings reminded him of high school and Mann readily agreed. Franklin was like the most popular kid in school. Mann compares him to "that girl you will love forever because she won't remember your name."

Also reminiscent of high school, Franklin once grabbed Mann by the shoulders with one arm and pushed him in the chest with his other arm, so that he was caught off balance and kind of hanging in mid-air. Franklin then asked him, "What would you do if I felt like dropping you?" Mann says Franklin's tone wasn't angry or taunting - it was just flat. The player then hauled Mann back up and danced around him with arms in the air as if there were crowds cheering him on. When I asked Mann if this felt like bullying, he said no. It was just typical of the kind of horseplay that went on in the clubhouse every day.

Mann actually thinks Franklin is a great guy but he lacks perspective (or at least he did back then.) Mann asks him about failure, a concept unfamiliar to his way of thinking. He insists he's not cocky. He says, "It's just I've never failed. Why am I supposed to think that can happen when it never does?"

Coincidentally, at the end of the book, Franklin happens to come up to the plate in the final inning of the championship game with a chance to win the championship for the LumberKings and he blows it. Game over.

But Franklin doesn't betray any emotions.

Mann sums him up this way: "As Nick Franklin swings, he believes fully in how infallible his talent is, the way his whole family believes, the way everybody around him has always believed. He hasn't ever doubted what he's been told he is."

Maybe it's that "willingness to believe" that will endear him to M's fans who year in and year out will themselves to believe it too.

Related:

M's Nick Franklin fitting right in after promotion to majors

Tom Tangney, KIRO Radio Host, Film & Media Critic
Tom Tangney is the co-host of The Tom and Curley Show on KIRO Radio and resident enthusiast of...everything. As the film and media critic on the Morning News on KIRO Radio, he espouses his love for books, movies, TV, art, pop culture, politics, sports, and Husky football.
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