When I look back at old drafts, be it baseball, football, basketball, whatever, I am struck by the sheer number of names I have never heard before. Because, of course, professional sports is about attrition and so many of the guys who get selected never go on to anything big.
I always wonder if any given anonymous player got hurt. Or if he’s happy working as a dentist someplace. Or if he went to some semi-professional league in Brazil or something and is living a life of ambivalent reflection.
Sometimes, though, we’re reminded that everything can just go bad. Like in the case of the number two overall pick of the 1971 baseball draft, Jay Franklin, whose story is told in the Washington Post today by Josh Barr:
First he had elbow problems. Then it was his shoulder, overcompensating for the elbow. He bounced around the minor leagues for a few years, then returned to Northern Virginia and worked as a laborer, in quality control and delivering packages. His wife left him, taking their two children to California. His father committed suicide. Shortly thereafter, Franklin was committed to a mental hospital. He now lives in an Annandale group home and attends sessions aimed at improving his ability to socialize; he said his therapist is changing his diagnosis to depression disorder.
Not exactly an uplifting story, but it’s a good story all the same. And one that will make you think a bit deeper about each of the names that are called out tonight, making you wonder what the story is behind the scouting report.