Matthew Neil Franco (born August 19, 1969 in Santa Monica, California) is a retired American professional baseball player who played first base in the major leagues from 1995 to 2003, and in Nippon Professional Baseball from 2004 to 2006.
|Born: August 19, 1969|
Santa Monica, California, U.S.
|September 6, 1995, for the Chicago Cubs|
|Last MLB appearance|
|September 27, 2003, for the Atlanta Braves|
|Runs batted in||117|
Matt Franco grew up in Westlake Village Ca, playing youth soccer with USMNT greats Eric Wynalda and Cobi Jones. Matt was a stand out baseball player at Westlake high and was drafted right out of high school, just a year later MLB great Mike Lieberthal was drafted from the same school. Franco started his pro career in 1987 with the Rookie League Wytheville Cubs in the Appalachian League. Matt then started the 1988 season in short season rookie ball, again with the Wytheville Cubs and hit .392 there and was promoted to the Low Level A ball New York/Penn League. Playing for the Winston-Salem Spirit of the Carolina League in 1991. Franco then moved up to class Double-A and for the next two seasons played for the Chicago Cubs Double-A affiliates in the Southern League, first with the Charlotte Knights in 1992, and then the Orlando Cubs in 1993. This came about with the Charlotte Knights being awarded membership into the Triple-A International league for the 1993 season. Franco would move up to Triple-A as well in 1993. After starting the season in Orlando he ended the season in Des Moines with the Iowa Cubs of the Triple-A American Association. Franco would return to the Iowa Cubs the next season before breaking into the Major Leagues with the Chicago Cubs in 1995.
A highlight of his career occurred on July 10, 1999. With the Mets trailing the Yankees by one run with two outs and two strikes in the bottom of the ninth, Franco came up with a pinch hit single off of Mariano Rivera to score two runs and give the Mets a 9-8 win.
On December 13, 2007, he was named in the Mitchell Report to the Commissioner of Baseball of an Independent Investigation Into the Illegal Use of Steroids and Other Performance Enhancing Substances by Players in Major League Baseball.
Franco, who currently lives in Simi Valley, California, is the son of film producer Larry J. Franco and the nephew of actor Kurt Russell (his mother, Jill Franco, being Russell's sister), and the grandson of actor Bing Russell. He holds the major league record with 20 pinch hit walks in a season.
- Jones, Brad. "The Relative Success of Matt Franco : He Is the Envy of His Family Despite Growing Up in a Movie-Industry Household". The Los Angeles Times. LA Times. Retrieved 1 August 2014.