Franklin will leave a great legacy

744680.png

Franklin will leave a great legacy

Simeon baseball coach Leroy Franklin will retire after the 2013 season. After a little nudging and cajoling, he admits he is 70 years old. He isn't into fishing or hunting. Instead, he'll gather his grandchildren and go watch his former players compete in college.

"Why retire? I can't do it forever," Franklin said."I've done a real good job and it's time for me to go. I promised myself that I'd go out with the class of 2013.

"It's tougher to coach today. There are so many distractions, so many gang problems, so many other issues. I'm not from Chicago. This is a town where you have basketball, basketball, basketball. When I grew up in New Orleans, we played football, basketball and baseball and ran track. But in most schools in Chicago, kids are just playing basketball."

At Simeon, where the football and basketball teams have ranked among the most successful in the state since 1981, the year that Franklin became head baseball coach, he hasn't had to take a back seat to anyone. He has carved a niche for himself and built an identity for his program.

Since 1981, Franklin has won over 80 percent of his games, over 700 victories in all. His teams finished fourth in state in 1983, 1990 and 1998.They have won seven Public League championships, including 2012, and finished second on eight occasions.

He has produced 25 players who have been selected in the major league draft, including catcherpitcher Blake Hickman this year. Three were drafted in 1984 and 1989, four in 1990. Wes Chamberlain was his only major leaguer. Jeff Jackson was the Player of the Year and the fourth overall pick in the1989 draft. Shawn Livesey was picked in the first round in 1991. Two current underclassmen, Darius Day and Corey Ray, project to be future draftees.

Jackson was a five-tool player and, skill-wise, the best Franklin ever produced even though Chamberlain had a six-year career in the major leagues with the Phillies and Red Sox. Jackson spent nine years in the minor leagues but never managed to earn a spot on a major league roster.

"I'm very disappointed that Jackson didn't make it to the major leagues," Franklin said. "As a pro, you have to eat and sleep baseball, no time off. You have to think baseball every day of the year."

More importantly, in his view, at least 60 of his former players went on to play baseball in college and graduated with degrees. Assistant coaches Robert Fletcher and Reginald Barker are former players and college graduates. Five members of his current squad recently were inducted into the Simeon chapter of the National Honor Society.

Franklin's formula for winning wasn't copied from a book on nuclear physics. He simply played the best players, whether they are freshmen or sophomores or juniors or seniors. No favorites. If you are disciplined, work hard, show up for class and practice and have a love for the game, you'll earn a spot on his roster.

"Allen Iverson couldn't have played for me," he said, referring to Iverson's one-time comment that he didn't take practice seriously. "If you don't practice, you don't play."

He stresses discipline, hard work, practice and fundamentals. He coaches in stations...bunting, hitting, throwing, pitching, catching, and running. He gets all of his kids involved in the drills and instills in them, that each of them, can be the best. They might not be, he admits, but they must try to be the best.

"The reason we won all these years is I played the best kids," he said."I made it clear there were no favorites. You have to have discipline. You have to do as well as you can in school. You must want to play the game. And we encourage them to go to college. If you are doing those things, you can't go wrong."

That's the way Franklin was raised in his native New Orleans. He made his high school baseball team but didn't play very much, mostly in the summer. At Grambling State, he majored in physical education.

"Most of my high school buddies played baseball at Grambling. I had a scholarship offer to Xavier University in New Orleans but they said to me: 'Why don't you come along?' I was young and foolish and having fun. I did the right thing. I stayed in school and graduated," he said.

After graduation, a friend persuaded him to go to Chicago. He got a teaching job at Betsy Ross elementary school on the South Side. In 1975, he was asked to coach the fresh-soph baseball team at Simeon. He was elevated to the head coaching position in 1981. When he looked around him, with Al Scott coaching football and Bob Hambric coaching basketball, Franklin knew Simeon was on its way to building a monster of a sports program.

"The main thing to be successful is to get kids and be organized," he said. "You've got to get kids who want to do their schoolwork and are disciplined and work hard and want to be something. You can find them. I've had kids who were troubled and had personal problems and we worked with them and they ended up doing well in school and went to college and graduated."

"I always want to help kids, not give up on them, keep them off the streets, keep them in school. I was raised that way. I know it's tougher today because of so many distractions. But I encourage kids to play all sports. But don't forget about baseball. I remind them not to just play baseball but you're playing to get to college."

Chicago native Brandon McCoy returns home for McDonald's All-American Game

Chicago native Brandon McCoy returns home for McDonald's All-American Game

The 2017 McDonald's All-American Game will be without an Illinois high school basketball player for the second consecutive year.

While the local drought for elite IHSA talent continues, this year's McDonald's game at least has a Chicago native in the mix as 7-foot big man Brandon McCoy is returning home to participate in the game. McCoy is considered the No. 15 prospect in the country according to Rivals.com.

A native of the West Side of the city, McCoy moved to San Diego during his middle school years, but he still has a lot of family and friends in Chicago supporting him.

A five-star prospect who is deciding between Arizona, Michigan State, Oregon and UNLV, McCoy has already been back to Chicago once during his high school career to compete at the Proviso West Holiday Tournament as a junior.

McCoy will take the floor with the West Team at the United Center tonight as he's one of six uncommitted prospects in the game.

Ryan Hartman returns for Blackhawks vs. Penguins

Ryan Hartman returns for Blackhawks vs. Penguins

PITTSBURGH — Ryan Hartman has played on the right side of that line for most of this season. Now back in the lineup, he knows he has to stay on it.

Hartman will play after missing Monday's game as a healthy scratch when the Blackhawks face the Pittsburgh Penguins on Wednesday night. Hartman took a few bad penalties, including an unsportsmanlike conduct, against the Florida Panthers last weekend, so he sat vs. the Tampa Bay Lightning. The rookie knows he has to get back to the more disciplined hockey he's played most of the season. 

"I don't change my game. I think you take the message and deliver the message," Hartman said. "Obviously, no one likes to not play, everyone wants to play games and no one likes to sit out games. It's definitely something that I took to heart. I'm just going to go out there and just try to play like I've been playing and get on the scoresheet. Just stay off it for the wrong reasons."

Coach Joel Quenneville said Hartman has to stay on the right side of the line.

[VIVID SEATS: Buy Blackhawks tickets]

"Know there are boundaries and sometimes you get watched a little bit more," Quenneville said. "The way they're calling the game, the way it's being officiated, be respectful. You still have to be hard to play against and find that limit, how far you can push it but you get a good feel on that early in games."

The Penguins are on a three-game winless streak (0-2-1) and are dealing with some injuries. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that, while Evgeni Malkin (shoulder) is close to returning, he won't play against the Blackhawks.

Broadcast information

Time: 7 p.m.
TV: NBCSN
Live stream: NBC Sports app
Radio: WGN 720 AM

Blackhawks lines

Nick Schmaltz-Jonathan Toews-Richard Panik
Artemi Panarin-Tanner Kero-Patrick Kane
Ryan Hartman-Marcus Kruger-Marian Hossa
John Hayden-Dennis Rasmussen-Tomas Jurco

Defensive pairs 

Duncan Keith-Niklas Hjalmarsson
Johnny Oduya-Brent Seabrook
Brian Campbell-Trevor van Riemsdyk

Goaltender

Corey Crawford

Injuries 

Artem Anisimov (left leg)

Penguins lines

Conor-Sheary-Sidney Crosby-Bryan Rust
Chris Kunitz-Nick Bonino-Patric Hornqvist
Scott Wilson-Carter Rowney-Phil Kessel
Tom Kuhnhackl-Oskar Sundqvist-Josh Archibald

Defensive pairs

Brian Dumoulin-Justin Schultz
Ian Cole-Chad Ruhwedel
Cameron Gaunce-Mark Streit

Goaltender

Marc-Andre Fleury

Injuries

Evgeni Malkin (shoulder), Trevor Daley (knee), Daniel Sprong (shoulder), Jake Guentzel (concussion), Olli Maatta (hand), Kris Letang (upper body), Carl Hagelin (foot), Ron Hainsey (upper body)