Matt Franco spent nearly a decade playing minor league baseball and another near decade playing in the majors.
He appeared in one World Series with the New York Mets in 2000.
On Tuesday, Franco was announced as the manager for the inaugural season of the Jackson Rockabillys this summer.
“I’m really proud to be here and excited about the opportunity to be a part of the inaugural season for this team,” Franco said during a press conference at the Carl Perkins Civic Center. “I’m looking forward to this opportunity.”
Franco and Rockabillys owner Dennis Bastien have been connected since 1989 when Franco played for the Charleston (W.V.) Wheelers as he was coming up to the Chicago Cubs’ farm system.
Bastien said he’s been a fan of Franco for decades and was glad to get him on the Rockabillys’ squad.
“He was a great player that played hard and worked his way up the farm system,” Bastien said. “He’s got great experience and will be able to really help these young guys coming in to Jackson this summer.”
When a fan in attendance asked Franco about his prior experience managing a baseball team, Franco was blunt in letting the fan know he doesn’t have a lot of experience coaching men.
“The last team I managed was a 13U travel team a couple years ago,” Franco said as many in the crowd laughed. “I don’t have a ton of experience coaching men, but I know coaching baseball isn’t much different if you’re coaching 8-year-olds or 18-year-olds.”
In addition to the managerial announcement, Bastien confirmed the team has signed a full roster of 32 players from various colleges including Tennessee, Ole Miss, Southern Miss, Arkansas State, Carson-Newman and Dyersburg State.
“We’ll announce those two at a time via social media each week for the next 16 weeks,” Bastien said. “But I think the baseball fans here will be glad to see the team we’re fielding this summer.”
The announcement is another step the team is taking toward bringing baseball back to the facility now known as the Jackson Baseball Stadium.
This season will be the first time since 2019 a team has been officially able to call the stadium home.
A Canadian team, the Winnipeg Goldeyes, played part of their home schedule at the stadium in 2022.
Bastien also said the hitting and pitching coaches for the team will be announced within the next couple weeks as well as other full-time staff for the ballpark.
“We’ve already got a few full-time staffers, so we’re ready to announce the second wave of those people,” said Steve Desalvo, the general manager for the organization. “As we’re getting closer to the season, you’ll be seeing a lot of announcements like this coming at you pretty regularly as we’re getting everything squared away.”
Along with the unveiling of the manager, the team also unveiled the home game cap the Rockabillys will wear, a dark purple hat with the Rockabillys’ logo on the front.
“We’re really excited as we’re getting closer and closer to opening day for us,” Bastien said.
The Rockabillys’ first game will be May 30 on the road. Their home opener will be on June 2. Brandon Shields, email@example.com