That's because his uncle had been a veteran of pro ball - his uncle Kurt Russell, The Times wrote.
"He's been helping me a lot, giving me advice for five years concerning my career in professional baseball," Franco told The Times. "What he's told me is to know that I'm not going to keep hitting .500, to not get down on myself when I go 0 for 4, to stick to my abilities and to get with it."
While Russell played in three pro seasons and never made the majors, freeing himself for other pursuits. Franco took his uncle's advice and whatever other advice he could get and went on to play two full decades in the pros. He saw the majors over eight of those campaigns and played three seasons in Japan.
Franco's career began that year in 1987, taken by the Cubs in the seventh round of the draft out of Westlake High School in California.
Franco started with the Cubs at rookie Wytheville. He hit .248 over 62 games. He made single-A Charleston for 1989, then high-A Winston-Salem for 1991, AA Charlotte in 1992 and AAA Iowa in 1993.
In September 1995, at age 25, Franco debuted in Chicago. He got into 16 games and hit .294.
The Cubs then traded him to the Mets for 1996. He saw 14 games that year, but soon became a regular. He got into 112 games in 1997 and hit .276.
Franco saw another 103 games with the Mets in and 122 in 1999. In July 1999, Franco hit a game-winning, two-run pinch-hit single in the ninth inning off future Hall of Famer Mariano Rivera.
"This is the biggest of my career so far -- definitely," Franco told The Associated Press after the game of his hit.
Franco got into 101 games for the Mets in 2000 and then spent all of 2001 at AAA Norfolk. He returned to the majors in 2002 with the Braves, after he signed there as a free agent.
He hit .317 in 81 games for the Braves in 2002, then .246 in 112 games there in 2003.
For 2004, Franco moved to Japan to play for Chiba Lotte. In 2005, he hit .30, with 21 home runs to help his squad win its first Japan Series in 31 years. His final pro time came back with Chiba Lotte in 2006. He hit .263 over 91 games to end his career.
- Los Angeles Times, July 1, 1987: The Relative Success of Matt Franco
- CBS News, Associated Press, July 10, 1999: Franco, Mets Stun Yanks In 9th
Made the Majors:1,167-36.1%-X
Never Made Majors:2,070-63.9%
5+ Seasons in the Majors: 484-X
10+ Seasons in the Minors:284