Jeff Francoeur

Triumph After the Fastball: MLB Success, Adversity, Broadcasting, & Beyond

Season  1Episode  2163 MinutesApril 3, 2024

Click to Watch Youtube Video

In our Season 1 finale, we meet MLB star, Jeff Francoeur. A fastball to the face could’ve been the grim endnote to his baseball career, yet it became a fulcrum of inspiration and determination.

Our conversation tracks the emotional odyssey from that pitch, through surgery, and back onto the diamond, revealing an athlete’s undying spirit. The warmth of his MLB debut, where he rounded the bases with a home run as is first hit, echoes through our chat, juxtaposed with the personal reflection on the cornerstones of his life—family, community, and the mentors who’ve guided his path.

Transitioning off the field, Jeff opens up about the guiding principles shaping his life. The lessons of discipline and accountability, ingrained by his father, resonate in his discourse on broadcasting, parenting, and his steadfast commitment to the things within his control: listening, attitude, and effort.

His philosophy on parenting, centered on consistency and imparting a strong work ethic, underscores the lasting influence of shaping values early on and nurturing them diligently.

Step behind the microphone and witness the world of sports broadcasting through Jeff’s lens. His mix of preparation and empathy crafts a broadcasting philosophy that ensures fans receive insightful commentary.

The discussion peels back the curtain on strategic decision-making in high-stakes scenarios and Jeff’s dedication to sharing the human stories of professional athletes. Join Jeff Hopeck and Jeff F. on this journey!


Key takeaways from Jeff:

  1.  Control what you can – listening to others, your attitude and the effort you put in.
  2. Always keep a strong work ethic and teach others the same.

 

Tune in to hear more inspiring stories from fascinating individuals.

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Timestamps:

7:48 – Family Values and Work Ethic

14:27 – High School Sports and Draft Day

22:47 – Baseball Career Highlights and Broadcasting Journey

30:34 – Overcoming Adversity in Baseball

33:49 – Reflections on Career

42:16 – Behind the Scenes of Sports Broadcasting

52:35 – Parenting and Sports Pressure


Show Transcript

Jeff Francoeur: 

Biggest thing that ever happened to me, man, was 2004, July 7th. I was in high A. I was getting moved up to double A the next day, Okay, and I got hit with a 96 mile per hour fastball in the face. Seven hours of surgery shattered my whole eye orbital bone. The side of it here shattered my whole sinus area. Literally for two weeks. My eye was so shut after surgery and they didn’t know if I’d be able to ever perfectly see again. And you know I get emotional sometimes thinking about this because you know, for me, everything that meant the only thing that meant anything really was playing baseball was getting to that moment.

Jeff Hopeck: 

Folks, welcome to another episode of Interesting Humans, and I’ve got a good one for us here today. Jeff Francoeur. Jeff, thanks so much for coming on.

Jeff Francoeur: 

Thank you for having me man. I’ve been called a lot of things Interesting, you know, not too much.

Jeff Hopeck: 

Well, you’re about to find out exactly why. I thought it’d be a good idea to have you in the seat. So, folks, as you know, jeff’s played MLB, had a great career. Multiple teams will get into that. Jeff was also a sports broadcaster. Is a sports broadcaster Also interesting? I think you should be sitting here Because I hear over and over and over again in the local community just how big your heart is and I think it’s incredible the combination of the two. So the success that took place throughout your career and still taking place, married with how you pour in. And I’m just going to give you one example a good friend of ours I don’t even have to say his name because you remember this Asked if you would come and speak to their small group. They had maybe six or seven high school kids if you would come and speak about a very specific topic. So I hear those stories over and over again. So just think it’s incredible that you’re pouring out, that you’re doing those things, not asking for anything on the back end, so Well.

Jeff Francoeur: 

I’ll tell you what? That means more than anything I’ve done Athletically. I can promise you that and I know we’ll get into a lot. But that starts with my mom and dad and, honestly, the way I was raised, the way they raised me, my sister, my brother, you know it’s the same thing. My wife, Katie, and I are trying to do it our for right now man is.

Jeff Francoeur: 

You know, it’s how you pour into them and that’s the thing you know. I was very fortunate and got to do a lot of great things that I was blessed with, but my mom and dad were the major part of that big component of it.

Jeff Hopeck: 

So before we get in, we’ll start start all the way back at childhood. I want to ask you one question what was it like Give me 24 hours? What was it like when you went to bed the night before your very first appearance on the field? What was it like? And then take me all the way through the next day after the game?

Jeff Francoeur: 

Well, I tell you what’s funny emotions, everything yeah.

Jeff Francoeur: 

When I call up the big leagues, my first game was July 7th of 05, and July 6th we were in Montgomery for double A and we got rained out. So we were actually at a Japanese steakhouse and they were doing all the cookie cooking. You know, you had the volcano lava thing and Brian Snicker, who’s the braze manager now, was our manager in double A and he called me like twice and I sent him to voicemail. We were in the middle of doing all this stuff and finally I got a text and he said I think you’re going to want to take this, Come to my. It was right next door to the hotel. So I came to the hotel yeah, you know, they had a couple, a couple beers. We cheered. He said you’re going to the big leagues. So I didn’t get home to like 1 30 in the morning because because we had a guy there that drove me from Montgomery to Atlanta. Sure, we were home and we had a day night double header the next day against the Cubs.

Jeff Francoeur: 

But I always laugh because I said, I got to be one of the only ones that literally spent the night in their childhood bed before their first game in the big leagues. Right, most guys either have their own place, depending where they’re at, yeah, or they’re spending the night in a hotel with the teams on the road, or they’d never been there. Yeah, for me, I was born, raised in Atlanta, so I literally am sleeping in my childhood room, or all my park fees, stuff from high school and all this stuff and I woke up and my mom ate me breakfast. So I slept in my childhood bed and had breakfast the night before my debut.

Jeff Francoeur: 

But, just, you know the to have 40, 50 family and friends there, all the people that you spent so much time getting you to where you are, cause I always say I mean you know the old saying it takes a village. And it’s so true because, yes, my mom and dad were so instrumental, but my high school coaches whether it’s football, baseball, some of my teachers in high school that impacted me so much, um, you know, to make me the man that I am, but also to instill work, ethic, discipline, different things.

Jeff Hopeck: 

Yeah, they were all there, that’s awesome.

Jeff Francoeur: 

So to run out to right field, see them there, and it’s like you know, each one of those people that were there for you had a had a part in what you know to get you where you were. And then it hit. A home run, of course, was icing on the cake. I would be lying if I didn’t say I floated around the basis, because there’s no doubt that was awesome, that’s incredible.

Jeff Hopeck: 

All right. What were the emotions like the night before when you put your head on a pillow? Did you sleep?

Jeff Francoeur: 

No, there’s no way. You know, here’s. Some people say I slept like a baby. I did not. I, you know, I’m first of all you can tell by this I’m full of energy. Yeah, I have a lot of get up and go in me, and so I was just so excited, you know, to to finally get the opportunity. You know from when I was five years old man, whether it was baseball, football, but I just wanted to play at the highest level in any sport that I possibly could, and of course, baseball became kind of my love. So the chance to do that, you know, I just kept picturing what it was going to be like.

Jeff Francoeur: 

Right, right Like that’s what you do in your head. You know what’s it going to feel like when you walk out on that field. And I built it up, built it up and it was way better than I could ever built it up that and hitting a home run.

Jeff Hopeck: 

So you’re walking from the practice circle to the plate. What goes in your mind this first time?

Jeff Francoeur: 

that man, you know what it’s like. Wow, this is really it. You know, when I had this at bat I’m going to be etched in forever of playing in the big leagues and this. But what was cool was, you know Michael Barrett, who’s a local Atlanta guy, was the catcher for the Cubs and he knew my story. You know, knew that I was a hometown guy in last Diaz who still lumps to this day was so cool because you heard the stories how umpires would not be nice to young players, rookies like they bag off. And last looked at me and he said, hey, step out for a minute and enjoy this moment. And it always meant I told him when I retired after 13 years. I told him like that moment still stuck with me today and I never argued with him, I didn’t, even if I felt like he called it.

Jeff Francoeur: 

I’d never argued like this guy let me enjoy my moment, and so that was pretty much it For me. Has just taken it all in 45,000, just cheering you on. You’re like, yeah, you hear people say this is, this is awesome, it was yeah, it was worth it.

Jeff Hopeck: 

That’s so cool. Let’s go back to young Jeffrey. What were you like as a child? What were you into? Sports? Gray is all that good stuff.

Jeff Francoeur: 

I was, I was a hundred miles a minute. I know the brother, older sister and me and my dad always jokes that they wanted for until they had me as the third one and then they were done, and so I always joke, you know, saying well, you know you saved the best for last, you weren’t going to do much better than this. But you know I had parents, man, that were awesome. They’re both in education. So my dad was in the Capcom school systems for 38 years and my mom took about eight years off when the kid, when we were all kind of young.

Jeff Hopeck: 

But she taught for 30 years taught middle school math.

Jeff Francoeur: 

So for us, I mean, when you hear like the discipline and school being first, right, right, it was like in our, in our, in our family, it was going to be church and your relationship with Christ first, school second and then sports was third, and, and and my dad never wavered from that. I probably missed five, six games, from Little League even to JV football.

Jeff Francoeur: 

I got pulled a half in JV football, my dad yanked me. The coach tried to come to him. Oh, we need Jeff to play. He said he ain’t playing. So my dad said a precedent that I always, I always respect. Now, at the time I was mad but I respected it because we knew there was, you know, an order that was going to happen. And for us to play sports and for us to have fun and do that, we had to take care of other things first.

Jeff Hopeck: 

Was there anything do you recall, like any kind of mantra or anything that they continue to say over and over and over again, drilling into you Like you can do it or you Passion.

Jeff Francoeur: 

I just remember my dad always saying whatever sport you play, you got to play, you got to love it, you got to have that passion. Because if you don’t have that passion and I think about it today, right, Like any job that you do if you’re just going through who are the best teachers, I think about my kids. Teachers who are the best teachers. They’ve had teachers that love it, that love coming to work, to pour into these kids. And it’s no different when I’m broadcasting now, in some of these games I can tell right away there might be games that I’m like I wasn’t very good. Well, I start to think I probably wasn’t in it, my head wasn’t there, I wasn’t doing it. So my parents always said you have to have passion and you got to have a work ethic.

Jeff Hopeck: 

Man.

Jeff Francoeur: 

I mean that’s the one thing right in this day and age. And I know you got four now too and you’re young like right. It’s crazy, but I tell my kids all the time you got to work for what you get. You can’t come home and sit on a couch.

Jeff Francoeur: 

You can’t come do this on a screen. Now, I’m not saying you can’t play Mario Kart and you can’t watch movies and have fun, but day in and day out, you have to have a work ethic. You got to go out there and work for what you want, and so, though, I was blessed because those were two things my parents and still they didn’t expect me to hit a home run every time. They’d expect me to be the best basketball player, but, as my dad always told me, I expect you to be the best hustler on the team.

Jeff Francoeur: 

I expect you to have the best attitude on the team. Things you could control and that’s what I tell my kids now that I coach Control the controllables man. You can control three things Listen, attitude and effort. Those are three things that you can control every single day when you wake up and I just turned 40, and even at 40, that’s what I try to do every day when I wake up. I know those three things I can do.

Jeff Hopeck: 

That’s awesome. So imagine, I like showing the visual here because people have asked what am I? What am I always writing? So every time I do an episode, the way I see it down the road is my kids are going to have a sheet and wait, do you see this? At the end it’s going to have arrows and just drawing, showing the non-linearness. Right, we don’t. We’re not just like born and then we’re like successful. They’re ups and downs and that’s what we’re going to get into today. But so imagine, down the road they’re going to look at right out of the gate, listen, attitude and effort, and I knew that was above everything.

Jeff Francoeur: 

I love that that was above me I’ll never forget. You know, my dad went to a basketball game with my sister, so my mom took me to our playoff game I was eight years old on the Celtics and we lost by like six or seven but I dropped like 40 something points, had an unbelievable game, but I told the ref at halftime that he sucked and I was eight years old. So my mom heard it and luckily my dad wasn’t there because I wanted to play the second half, but my mom is there. So we pull, we get home and my mom tells my dad well, you can imagine, right there, I mean, I had to spend the night.

Jeff Francoeur: 

That night that got canceled. Anything I had probably for the next month got canceled. But my dad, we had a 1984 Caprice Classic man, we called it the blue beast and I’ll never forget my dad loaded me in the back of that blue beast. We drove back to that gym. It was in the second quarter of the next game and I had to sit there with my dad and at halftime I had to go over to that ref and tell him I was sorry, I was disrespectful in this, and I got back in the car and drove home.

Jeff Francoeur: 

Incredible and the anticipation I still remember to this day of driving to go do that. It was one of the most nervous moments of my life because I’m like it, just, but that’s how it was. Man Like that was first and foremost and anything that happened after that good or bad, right during the game, was going to fall comparison to what that was.

Jeff Hopeck: 

Could have been looking back. One of the most powerful statements, most impactful statement ever Right, like his parents.

Jeff Francoeur: 

we’re in the same spot now with our kids and where they’re at. How many times do we tell our kids if you don’t do this, this is going to happen. And then we don’t follow through? Simple, and I think back to when I’m eight years old if my dad doesn’t make me do that, I think I can just do whatever I want to do. That’s right. But I knew from that moment and it helped me because when I got to the big leagues man, there were numerous coaches that I’ll be honest with you, I didn’t like what not just managers, but assistant coaches. But I always knew I got to respect. That’s it? Respect the authority figure.

Jeff Hopeck: 

What are you seeing out there today?

Jeff Francoeur: 

People not doing it and I fall victim to that. Tell my kids, if you, if you don’t do this, you’re not watching TV, and then what? Two hours later they’re crying, they’re doing this and I put a show on. You know, and I’m like, the discipline that it takes and that’s what my, my mom and dad both had was a cohesiveness to say, more than sports or anything. We’re going to raise three good human beings.

Jeff Hopeck: 

Good human beings. Tell me a little bit about your siblings.

Jeff Francoeur: 

Oh man they’re great. My great relationships. My brother was four years older than me, you know. He played all the same sports. So I and that’s what always made me great Right, Like I feel like I was tagged along to these events and I’m playing with these nine years old at five, and like if.

Jeff Hopeck: 

I don’t step up my game I ain’t playing. I’m not going to the ball.

Jeff Francoeur: 

My sister was a year younger than him, three years older than me, and our relationship was so great we were very supportive of each other, and so that was the thing. But you know, my parents did a good job. Twice a week we were eating family dinners. There was no sports every night. That was going to drive the family dynamic. So I knew two nights a week we had family dinners, we sit and talk at the table and stuff, and that’s one thing that that I still, even with four kids, we got three playing sports. Now, yeah, me and my wife are making it a must that on Sunday nights and on right now, the nights Thursday, but we’re having two nights a week. We’ll eat as a family together and talk about things special.

Jeff Hopeck: 

That’s awesome. So, moving into high school years now, what sports were you interested in, what were you playing, what were you excelling at?

Jeff Francoeur: 

So for me, I loved baseball and football. Okay, my first two loves yeah, I played basketball because all my buddies did it. In eighth grade I was just more athletic than a lot of people, but I started realizing ninth and 10th the skill part kind of started set in. And you know, when I went to Parkview man, we were playing in the state championship all the way and football till December 20th and then baseball started like January 18. So I’m like this really is not lining up. So going into my sophomore year, I made the decision to just do the two sports. And it was so funny because baseball had always been my first love. But you know how big football is in the state of Georgia. Recruiting my sophomore year man, I start getting letters from Joe Paterno and Steve Spurrier and Lou Holson. You’re kind of like man, this is pretty cool. And so you know, football had always kind of turned, kind of started to turn, into my favorite sport. But I will tell you that I always kind of knew my future was in baseball.

Jeff Hopeck: 

You know like.

Jeff Francoeur: 

I went into the football field. I played JV my freshman year. I started as a sophomore in varsity but I walked in my freshman year in baseball and immediately was on the varsity and playing. Yeah, I knew I was only the second guy to ever play as a freshman on the varsity level, parkview. So I kind of knew that I was in a good spot.

Jeff Hopeck: 

Yeah, but that and that was your love.

Jeff Francoeur: 

Yeah, it was. It was. I loved it. I love being out there. I love. I love the mental part, right Like you’re gonna fail 70% of the time and still be a great player. That’s incredible. Who’d you look up to? You know, Dale Murphy was one of my favorite players growing up. Yeah, I just I loved what. You know why? Because he was on some horrible teams here in Atlanta, but the way he handled himself, the way he kept playing hard first teammates I always love that. I actually have a dog now and his name’s Murph.

Jeff Hopeck: 

Oh.

Jeff Francoeur: 

I told Dale that he’s like don’t tell me that I don’t need to know that old, you know, which is great, but you know. So that was kind of deal. And of course, my dad man, I mean, that was, you know, that was my guy. I always say he could come to any stadium in the big leagues and I, you know, I knew I, within a minute I could probably find him in the stands.

Jeff Hopeck: 

You know, there’s just that keen sense of ability.

Jeff Francoeur: 

Yeah, and it’s like anything, you look for their approval, you know, and my dad was never this raw, raw cheer. He sat by himself at football games with my mom. He didn’t want to talk to people during the game. But I always knew, like if you gave the effort and you do whatever, I’d look up and you get one of these from them, you know thumbs up, and so that was kind of my always approval. I knew that I’m maybe not, you know, hitting the home runs or doing it, but I’m playing hard.

Jeff Francoeur: 

And that’s what he wanted to see that’s awesome.

Jeff Hopeck: 

How were you as a student?

Jeff Francoeur: 

I was good, I had to be good yeah, I mean I was not. I made all as and Bs you did. It’s awesome. So you know I will say my senior year I probably got a little more relaxed because I I went through one of those moments of like, you know I’m sick of school and I know I’m going to play major league baseball. So my mom still cries because I made one see my whole life and it was because my senior year I didn’t go to the final in math.

Jeff Francoeur: 

Oh, OK, man I just turned in my thing and I’m like I’m out, I’m getting drafted in two days, I don’t care about this and my mom still gives me crap about it.

Jeff Hopeck: 

That was the only C.

Jeff Francoeur: 

It was the only C. I made mostly A’s, made a couple of B’s, but that was the only C and she’s like oh, it’s so. I’m like mom, I could care less. I don’t regret it.

Jeff Hopeck: 

So you’re getting drafted in two days what, let’s, let’s go. What does it look like? What is what does it feel like? What is that?

Jeff Francoeur: 

Well, it’s crazy because you start talking all these teams and it’s only worse. Now, right, like all the social media that’s available now, the draft is live from up in New York at the MLB networks. When I did it, we, we, literally you were looking on a computer. Your name would pop up on the computer.

Jeff Hopeck: 

Yeah.

Jeff Francoeur: 

So we’re sitting there draft day, my high school coach and my wife, who’s my girlfriend at the time, katie were there and that was it we. I just did it. Something went wrong. If you didn’t get drafted, the last thing I wanted was a lot of people over at the house and then you feel like this is not good, wow.

Jeff Francoeur: 

And so it was about the 21st pick and our phone rang and it was John Scherholz with the Braves, and he said they just sent him the 22nd pick. We got the 23rd pick, we want to draft you. And so it’s cool, then, because you sit there and waited for your name to be announced on the radio thing. Yeah, to see your name come across the board.

Jeff Francoeur: 

And then it was great for me because Brian McCann, who was one of my best friends growing up, went to Duluth. We played travel ball together. You know he was a second pick for the Braves with the 64th pick. So that night actually we had a party at our house and a lot of his friends and a lot of my friends came over and celebrated.

Jeff Hopeck: 

That’s awesome, McCann. So in believe it was the year 2005,. I got to give a White House tour when I was there to Scherholz.

Jeff Francoeur: 

Yeah.

Jeff Hopeck: 

Scherholz, you’ll probably know the years Frank ran.

Jeff Francoeur: 

Let me see there. Yeah, Frank was his assistant. Oh, five or six somewhere in there.

Jeff Hopeck: 

Skip carry At the time, Chip carry yeah.

Jeff Francoeur: 

So we came back in I think it was seven or eight, and you know, president Bush and Julio Franco knew each other well from the days in Texas with the Rangers. Yeah, that’s right so we actually ended up going in the Oval Office and sitting down with President Bush for a couple hours.

Jeff Hopeck: 

You did, you could do that.

Jeff Francoeur: 

That’s probably one of the coolest experience, because he talked to us about 9-11 and that whole thing, and so it was it was crazy. It was it was really neat but crazy.

Jeff Hopeck: 

Wow, so George W’s, who I worked for when. I was in Salt Lake City my brother at the time. You might have known him. He was the general manager for the Braves radio network, scott Hopek. So Scott calls me and goes hey, I got an introduction for you, if you want to get him connected with, with, with the appearance, the appearance that George W is making.

Jeff Hopeck: 

It’s Dale Murphy. Oh, ok, so here we are. We get Dale Murphy in. This is a great George W Bush story. We get Dale Murphy into the front of the event to shake hands with George W and, of course, dale Murphy’s. Like you know, mr President, I’ve always wanted to meet him. Glad we had a chance to do this. And George W? Guess what he says to him.

Jeff Francoeur: 

I can only imagine.

Jeff Hopeck: 

He’s just such a man of humility the whole family but he goes. No, sir, you’ve got it backwards. I’ve always wanted to meet you. This is my honor is what he said to me. It was just special Good.

Jeff Francoeur: 

That was when you know, in 2010, when I was in the in the World Series with the Rangers. It was cool because Game 4, both bushes came back and one throughout the first pitch, the other caught it and it was. It was incredible.

Jeff Hopeck: 

Remarkable. They’re like their family as far as men, women that have worked.

Jeff Francoeur: 

I tell everybody that all the time I said no matter where you stand politically, I don’t care. Republican Democrat, I said, but men of integrity and faith, I said.

Jeff Hopeck: 

They hit a home run the way they treat it Asked, the way they treat humans, is incredible. So, along the way, you actually passed down a scholarship potential for football, I did.

Jeff Francoeur: 

Tell us about that? Well, I was. I was, you know. I signed to go to Clemson with Tommy Bowen. He was awesome. He said look, come play football and then in the spring you don’t have to come to spring football, go, you know, whatever, and all this. And it’s so funny because I give such an honest answer to this, which I used to not. People ask me why did you choose baseball over football? And I always say I got. I got 2.2 million reasons why.

Jeff Hopeck: 

And because that’s what my signing bonus was. So I’m not going to sugarcoat it.

Jeff Francoeur: 

Yeah, I got a nice signing bonus to go play baseball and I remember sitting down with my mom and dad because it wasn’t easy, because they’re both in education. We’re an educated family, yeah, and you know I’m for going to college.

Jeff Francoeur: 

And I remember my mom and dad both saying look, you got a chance to realize a dream that you’ve had. You go to college a lot of times to figure out what you want to do. You might have had a chance to do it without having to go to college. So go have fun, chase a dream, and if it doesn’t work out, then you go back to college. I actually still to this day. If I wanted to go back to college, clemson or the Braves would have to pay for me eight semesters to go somewhere. No way.

Jeff Hopeck: 

How is that? How does that work?

Jeff Francoeur: 

It was part of my deal. It’s incredible.

Jeff Hopeck: 

So they would pay for it right now Incredible, but I have no desire.

Jeff Francoeur: 

I’m going to be honest with you before kids. Last I told my wife if you want to do it for me and pretend I’m all in, that’s great, I love it.

Jeff Hopeck: 

All right, that’s incredible 2.2 million reasons, so thanks for the transparency there, no problem. Thank you for the transparency. I love the answer. So now we’re in the bigs. You told us the story about the first day. Tell me some good stories. Just go as you go through your career.

Jeff Francoeur: 

You know it’s so cool because I got to experience so many great things my rookie year. We come in, we light the world on fire. We go to the playoffs, you know, win the division for the 14 time and you kind of get spoiled because it’s like man. Is this what it’s going to be like, playing for the Braves Each year?

Jeff Hopeck: 

we get to go to the playoffs.

Jeff Francoeur: 

We were 21 years old and me and Brian McCann got an apartment together. You know Taco Bell rappers everywhere. I mean, as you can imagine, two 21-year-old guys.

Jeff Hopeck: 

Was it in the city or north?

Jeff Francoeur: 

It was in Duluth we stayed in the suburbs out there because we were both from the suburbs and all that. So we had a blast and look, I got experience. Like I said, so many great things. My first two years in the big leagues 100 RBIs. Both years won a gold glove in 07. I got married in 07, in November, to my wife, katie.

Jeff Francoeur: 

And so it was like all this stuff was just lining up right, like you’re like, oh, this is going to be great. And then in 08, man, I really started to struggle and I’ll be honest with you, I never really struggled, even in the minor leagues, man, like I would go through a few days of slump, but I never struggled. And, of course, in high school little league I never struggled, and so I honestly wasn’t equipped to understand how to get through it to handle it.

Jeff Francoeur: 

And it was tough, man. I told someone there was a couple of weeks there where I really struggled.

Jeff Francoeur: 

I went to like if the barber would have told me what to do hitting I would have listened to him you know, and I always say this, it’s like a curse and a blessing that I got to play where I grew up, because the two most important words and I’m sure you know this with your kids now or the two most important letters, one word was I wish I’d known was no, having the ability to say no to things Like I just can’t do it. Come speak here, come do this. I can’t.

Jeff Francoeur: 

I didn’t know how to say no. So I was going to everything doing this and I was just spreading myself then and I struggled. Man, I didn’t have a great year, I get off to 09. I got off to a great start and then struggled a little bit and I remember getting called into Bobby’s office and I got traded. And I remember sitting in Colorado on Bobby’s saying we traded you to New York and the first thing that popped in my head was like the Yankees. And he looks at me and goes, no, the Mets. And I’m like the Mets.

Jeff Francoeur: 

Run up a Braves fan right, Like you’re supposed to hate the Mets more than any other team. Right.

Jeff Hopeck: 

And.

Jeff Francoeur: 

I’m like and being from here my whole life. I’m like I always told someone I’ll never live in New York, and it’s just so funny. I always talk about God’s sense of humor, man.

Jeff Hopeck: 

It was like everything I said I wouldn’t do, I end up doing, you end up doing.

Jeff Francoeur: 

And so I got traded in New York, but it ended up being such a cool time. I was there for a year and a half. We lived in the city. Me and Katie didn’t have kids yet. Man, we had so much fun Dinners at night this and that it was actually a great time and I really enjoyed. I tell people I never would want to have kids and live in the city.

Jeff Francoeur: 

Right no chance, no chance, but without kids. We had a really good time and a special moment. But you know what people ask me all the time what if your time in Atlanta would have gone different? And I always say I never would have got traded to the Mets, which never would have got me traded to the Rangers where I played in the World Series in 2010.

Jeff Francoeur: 

And so here I was in July 2009, thinking it’s the end of the world that I got traded and literally 14 months later I’m running out opening lineup for the World Series and there I am, in right field and I’m like this is pretty cool.

Jeff Hopeck: 

That’s cool.

Jeff Francoeur: 

And so then I went to Kansas City for three years, which was a blast, and then Philly and then back to Atlanta to finish. There’s so many cool things that I got experience. And then of course and I know we’ll get back to it, but not try and jump ahead to you but I think broadcasting, doing what I’m doing, all those experiences that I played in baseball have made me a broadcaster. It has made me, hopefully, a decent broadcaster.

Jeff Hopeck: 

I like the thing.

Jeff Francoeur: 

But it’s because I know what these guys are feeling. I’ve been on the front of sports illustrated. I’ve hit 100 RBIs. I’ve won a gold glove. I’ve played in the World Series. I’ve also been traded twice. I’ve been released. I’ve had to go back to AAA for three months to work my way back up to the big leagues. So I feel like every hitter that comes to the plate he’s feeling. You know how he’s feeling. I know I was feeling Right now. He can’t miss a fastball and he’s hitting great. I know that guy that’s coming to the plate going.

Jeff Hopeck: 

I have zero chance to get a hit right here.

Jeff Francoeur: 

That’s how bad I’m going, and so you know what I think that whole experience has helped shape how I look at life.

Jeff Hopeck: 

Yeah, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. Wouldn’t trade it for anything, nothing Incredible. All right, I got a quiz question for you. How many times did you have to go up to the plate until you got to walk?

Jeff Francoeur: 

Oh gosh, to start my career. I think it was at 153.

Jeff Hopeck: 

At least what I found was 128. 128,.

Jeff Francoeur: 

OK, but the story.

Jeff Hopeck: 

why is incredible? Do you know what? They credit it to your ability. They called you long on-barber. Oh yeah, well, so I had good eyehand coordination.

Jeff Francoeur: 

I could put the ball on, play a lot. But the other thing too is when I first got to the big leagues, no one really knew much about me. So they’re throwing me pitches and I was hitting them and getting hits every time. Like that’s what I’m saying I remember thinking surely the game’s harder than this. You know Like never told anybody that, but inside I’m like can’t be this easy and but it was incredible.

Jeff Francoeur: 

Man, I just had the opportunity to continue to get hits doing this and I was aggressive, like there’s things. If I could go back, I wish I was more patient, I wish I got better pitches sometimes, but that’s just the way that I played.

Jeff Hopeck: 

Yeah. So if you got who’s on first when you’re playing right field, who’s on first, that can actually make it around the third base without you gunning them down. Oh man, there can be many.

Jeff Francoeur: 

So I will tell you, I tell people all this time, even when I go talk to kids, or even my son’s baseball or softball team. I’ll say I might be 80 years old someday I hope I’m alive and I might not be able to hit anymore. But I said I’ll be able to throw a baseball and put it on a gnats ass on the back. I will be able to put that thing because there’s one thing I can do I can throw a baseball. What’s that?

Jeff Hopeck: 

skill set to be able to throw it so accurately. But so far the distance Right.

Jeff Francoeur: 

God bless me with a great arm. I never had arm problems. It blew me away, I could throw and throw and throw my arm never hurt, wow.

Jeff Francoeur: 

So I got to the point where I had rested my arm all off season. I didn’t throw. For four months I didn’t throw a single baseball. And I’d get to spring training and for two weeks I’d throw and my arm would be sore now because I hadn’t done anything right. But it was like all of a sudden, you know I would throw, like to the bases and it would be kind of you know, and fall down and then all of a sudden, towards the end of camp you’d start to get that carry, start to get that thing, and by the first game, and boom, I was ready to go. But I was accurate because I worked on it. Twice a week I’d go out and what I talked about a work ethic, right, yeah, twice a week I’d go out and throw to the bases. I throw three to second, three to third, three to home right, just in the outfield. I’d practice going to my left, spin turning, throwing, going to my right, throwing the guy out at third, like yeah, I put in the work at that at that part.

Jeff Hopeck: 

Do you have a favorite play, one that sticks out, just that?

Jeff Francoeur: 

you somebody that, yeah, one of my favorites is right off the bat no five man, my rookie, or Luis Gonzalez, who’s a stud with the diamond backs, you know, game winning hit, if you remember, in the 2001 World Series to beat the Yankees 2007. Yeah, and I threw him out twice in the same game and I had only been up for like a month and I threw him out at home the first time. It’s like the second or third inning and he kind of turned back and look and then in the sixth inning he tried it again and I threw him out again and he looked up and he, he turns around.

Jeff Francoeur: 

He just puts his hands up like who the heck is this kid? What is he doing? Throwing me out twice and I saw him out at the NLCS this year when the diamond backs were there, because he works for. Arizona now and we still laugh at that story. He’s like I remember thinking who does this kid think he is just throwing me out twice?

Jeff Hopeck: 

in one game. That’s incredible. All right, so you had that one little Episode, that situation where you you got into a little slump we’re anything come to mind. Any other times when it just sort of didn’t work out for you in life, things didn’t go the way you plan shoot one of my biggest stories.

Jeff Francoeur: 

And you know I’m talk about my faith a lot and you know I I tell people a time I don’t know how anybody plays baseball and and I hate to say it is not a believer I don’t know how you get through that. Yeah, cuz it, cuz like for me the ability to you know, I mean, if you, if you just take baseball and that’s the only thing you got, you will ride an emotional roller coaster all year. Oh, pat, so it’s trying to find that balance right. Yeah, and when I talked to a lot of groups, the biggest thing that ever happened, I mean man, was 2004, july 7th. I was in high a. I was getting moved up to double a the next day, okay, and I got hit with a 96 mile per hour fastball in the face. Seven hours of surgery Shattered my whole eye orbital bone, the side of it here, shattered my whole sinus area, literally for two weeks. My I was so shut after surgery and they know if I’d be able to ever perfectly see again. Oh, my goodness.

Jeff Francoeur: 

And you know I get emotional sometimes thinking about this because you know, for me everything that meant the only that meant anything really was playing baseball was getting to that moment and I remember my mom For surgery come in, it’s become a come my life.

Jeff Francoeur: 

First she would read Joshua 1, 9 all the time, which says have I not commanded you, be strong and courageous, do not be discouraged or afraid from the Lord, your God, and be with you wherever you go.

Jeff Francoeur: 

And I, I remember just I didn’t want to hear it, right my mom’s telling me this and I’m mad at God, like why did you do this to me? I had everything set up, but as I started to go through this and digest everything that happened, I was like you know, man, just my sheer ability when I’m out there, that’s God’s gift to me and that’s his grace that I get to play this game. And so I remember it really shaped, kind of how I looked at things after that and I think, getting traded, going back to triple, I really helped that because, you know, here I was and it’s like if I had a bad game, I’d be like you know what? I know I had a bad game, but I just got paid a lot of money to have a bad game, right, right, and I could also be where I was six years ago, sitting there bleeding all over the ground in Frederick, maryland.

Jeff Francoeur: 

Not knowing if I’m ever playing again. So that was always one of the huge key moments I feel like in my life, just from from Really committing my life to Christ, but also just the realization. You know and I always tell people whether you’re a Christian or not like the idea of being thankful for what you have and that ability. It totally shaped my perspective.

Jeff Hopeck: 

That’s incredible, yeah, what was going on?

Jeff Francoeur: 

so 96 mile an hour fastball to see me just ran up and just just hit me right here and just, and the hardest thing Was and this is where my dad really came in too was I had to go to the Arizona fall league that year. So this happened July 7th of 04. Okay, so for and I didn’t you know such a big year for me because I was hoping to get to the big leagues the next year. So I wanted to get to Arizona and do that fall league. Well, the Braves wanted me to take the rest of your off. Well, I got back in five and a half weeks and played the game, because there’s two weeks left this season. I remember my dad telling me you’ve got to get back in that box and you got to face your fears.

Jeff Francoeur: 

Yeah, you might not get a hit the vet, like next week, it doesn’t matter, right, you got to get in there and know that you can do it. Yeah, and so I did, and I remember I was over my first 13, do the first pitch this guy through, and Salem Virginia, and it was probably Maybe even down the middle. I thought it was coming right at my head.

Jeff Hopeck: 

I lean back, you know and I remember the umpire You’re like what’s wrong with this guy?

Jeff Francoeur: 

You know and but I got back in there, overcame my fears. So I talk about a lot of times is you got to get back up on that horse man? You got to get what was that very first at bat, like the worst that that I’ve ever had in my life, because I was so scared to death, man, because all I did was think about that pain. When I’m laying on the ground and it’s like my head’s ringing, I can’t see anything.

Jeff Hopeck: 

You know? And then all those thoughts go through your head, right I’m never playing again, I’m never this and yeah.

Jeff Francoeur: 

So that was the hard thing for me is getting back in there. But it was like you know, all of a sudden you got a little more comfortable, you got a little bit of hits and and I kind of always finished my story saying how cool it is for me that July 7th of 2004. I got hit in the face July 7th of 2005. Yeah, my big league debut a year to the day the same day.

Jeff Hopeck: 

That’s incredible. That’s really cool. Did you have a favorite city? You lived in a bunch.

Jeff Francoeur: 

Well, favorite city. I ever played like that. I would go to Chicago during the summer. Absolutely love that place. I I could play there. Now Everybody tells me do not go there during the winter. I’ve never been there yet the winter but, I love Chicago and honestly look Atlanta special. It’s where I grew up in a loved Kansas City.

Jeff Francoeur: 

Midwest people are awesome and their salt to the earth people like me and Katie just living this random neighborhood and like you know all our neighbors knew who, who we were and like, if, if Katie stayed home and I was on a road trip, dude, they’d go over and take her meals, like, hey, if you need anything, like it’s just great people, right, like you, just in a neighborhood with all these people. And Then two guys Luke coach Averon, alex Gordon who I played with, are my, my best friends to this day. We go on a trip every year. We’re actually going to Italy with them in June to celebrate our 40th, nice and but so those were two guys that like, right, you have relationships, but you also have guys that you, you do life with, that have depth and relationships. And so those were the two guys that I met there that that really yeah for me.

Jeff Hopeck: 

What was routine like for you?

Jeff Francoeur: 

So I was pretty routine oriented. I really was like I’d get to the field every day about two o’clock. I’d kind of change a little bit, and then I would go usually get a little stomp on my stomach and then I try to go get a little workout in, whether it was just even getting loose, get my body moving, yeah. I’d go to the batting cage, I’d get kind of a routine in for 25, 30 minutes of hitting every day and then I’d come in, I put my uniform on, go out to BP, yeah. And where I always try to relax was after BP, right, because now I get in it’s like five, 30, the games at seven, ten, and I really had an hour to kind of just relax. And for me that was a fun part because, like, I’ve put in the work, yeah, I’ve watched film on the picture, I know what’s going on right Now. Just go play the game, yeah.

Jeff Francoeur: 

but I use that time kind of to chill or whatever and then after the game, you know and I love how it’s going on now you know the whole ice, ice bath the ice so. I loved it, so I lived in it after every game you did so me and Alex Gordon, who is my locker mate. After every game we would have the guy in the eighth inning get the ice bath ready. Yeah, and they would put four Bud lights in there to a piece.

Jeff Hopeck: 

No we go in there and we always say you know how? People set timers our timer was when, those two years, we get out of the ice bath.

Jeff Francoeur: 

And and that was my favorite seat, and that’s where you talk about, like technology and social media, all this change in the game. Gosh, you go in there now and guys are gone five, ten minutes after the game. Are they get their meal. Some of my best moments were in those moments in the bath and ice bath in the shower 45 minutes after game talking man. Can you believe this happened? Can you believe that happened?

Jeff Francoeur: 

Yeah that’s the part of the game that I hate that some of these young guys, young guys are getting robbed of man. Is that, billy, like these wives ride home with their guy? Like my wife knew there was one rule she ain’t ride home with me after a game.

Jeff Hopeck: 

Not right home with me after you?

Jeff Francoeur: 

go for four and three strike out. I don’t want to talk to you after the game. So I would always tell her all the time, like, come to the game. Heck, you can uber to game. Right, one of the other wives can drop you off, and you know. What that did, though, for me and it was really good was I would call my dad after every game, every game we would talk after every game. We’d go through my bats, kind of talk about it. It wasn’t like he was lecturing me, was just do it. So it was always nice for me, though, because of what I talked about is being able to have my baseball identity. But then I got home and I was like I’m, I’m Jeff, I’m your husband, I’m not the baseball guy, so we’re not talking about, but I was.

Jeff Francoeur: 

I need that ability to have time to decompress after a game. I can’t just you can’t. I need that time to talk to my dad. She’s go through some of my bats and get it out. Yeah, and, and it was even more evident when we had kids.

Jeff Hopeck: 

What would that conversation look? Like your dad was just. Was it father, son? Or like your coach?

Jeff Francoeur: 

No, father, son, for sure that changed, like my dad was always my coaches and that. But it was always cool Cuz he kind of got we you know we got to love. I used to joke with them when I first got to big leagues and he tried to lecture me on something Like how many hits you got in the big league you know, I just tell me all this stuff.

Jeff Francoeur: 

But it was more. My dad had such a good grip on when I called, what kind of mood I was in, right, like if I needed a pep talk, like man. That was a rough game tonight. Try this, do this, get this. Sometimes it was, you know, great games and we talked about everything else. I’ll be honest, there were times I called him after a game and we never talked about baseball, we talked about something else for 10 or 12 minutes and he would just finish, would just get him tomorrow, you know, and he always called me sport. That was his nickname for sport, and so it was special.

Jeff Francoeur: 

And then you had the other thing with which, god bless, my mom is the sweetest thing in America and she drove me to more sporting events, put more miles on her van to take me Everywhere. But it was always funny because every once, while she’d answer the phone and she’d be like you know, when you’re at the plate, I’m like mom, do not give me, I do not need hitting advice. And she’d be like Jeffrey, you just don’t look comfortable up there, and I’m like I know, because I stink right now, you know. So it always be funny there, because I’d tell her I know, don’t do that. Oh, I love that now I get it.

Jeff Hopeck: 

Okay, now I get. I can hit the pause button and go. I See where your heart comes from, yep, in here in these stories, because you know you go out and look at Wikipedia or look at the internet.

Jeff Francoeur: 

It’s just statistics, it’s just numbers, oh for sure listening to this, now I get why you walk around and pour into kids and Take it over in my broadcasting, right, like I’m not a huge number guy, you’re not gonna turn on a game and I’m not gonna be like, hey, this guy was 12 for his last year. You can look that up. Right, sure you’re. You’re five seconds away from getting anything you need. Yeah, I like to tell you why he’s hitting well, why he’s hitting bad. You know, I’ll be honest with you.

Jeff Francoeur: 

Watching the Super Bowl the other night, I was so mad at Tony Romo late in the game when they were banging Shanahan at At why he wanted the to receive the ball remember Overtime rules changing they’re like why wouldn’t you kick it? And then you know what you have to do yeah, and look, maybe he should have done that. But what people that realize is okay. Say, san Fran gets the ball first and they score field-glored touchdown, yeah, and then Kansas City matches them. Now San Fran gets the ball back and if they kick a field goal games over Kansas City doesn’t get the ball back. So it’s like a two for one. I’m not saying that’s right.

Jeff Francoeur: 

Yeah but I’m saying he didn’t give that option, right, you know, and I’m like, as a broadcaster, I want to give these guys options, you know, and I write two things on my scorebook. I have that. I read every day. It says don’t ever forget how hard the game is. Okay, because it can look pretty easy on TV. Right, right oh that guy miss that fastball is right down the middle.

Jeff Francoeur: 

And number two don’t ever say anything on air that I once say to a player’s face. To a player’s face, okay, I think it’s so important because you know you hear these guys now. You know they they bag this or bag that or say this and it’s like wait a minute, man, you forget when you’re in that heat of the moment. Yeah, game moves quick and it ain’t easy. So you know, I’ve always said that kind of for me. You know my parents raised me to see, I think, the bigger picture and things sometimes. Yeah, you know, and, and, and you know you said the hard thing, like I’m a big believer, as the Lord says, much is given, much as asked. Yeah, and you know we’re put here to serve. I know we always don’t do the best job of it, but yeah, I try to do the best I can yeah, that’s incredible.

Jeff Hopeck: 

Okay, so what is it? What’s it like behind the scenes of one of those broadcasts?

Jeff Francoeur: 

Well, it’s, it’s. It’s different for different things, right, like when you’re doing the Braves broadcast Throughout the year. It’s not, it’s easy, because you’re following the team, you know the pulse of the team, you know what’s going on. Yeah, so yes, you’re talking to players, you’re getting stories doing this, but 99% of our fans are Braves fans that are watching the game.

Jeff Francoeur: 

They don’t want to hear about the Mets, keep talking about the Braves. Now, when I do the playoffs, it’s a little different. I have to do more homework, because my big thing is I want you say you’re a Phillies fan, right? And you turn on TBS for the postseason. I want you to feel like, well, this guy really knows our team. Yeah, a lot of times what I’ve done is like Matt Olson, before he came to the Braves, was with the A’s yeah. So during the pandemic in 2020, we did the playoffs in a bubble out in LA in San Diego and I called Matt and he spent an hour with me going through everything to do with the A’s Get out. I sent him a bottle of nice bottle of wine for you. Thank you, jeff.

Jeff Hopeck: 

You’re incredible.

Jeff Francoeur: 

So we went over all that. So you know it’s a little different than anything. It’s doing your homework, right? Yeah, like you have it on a podcast. You’re doing your homework on me, knowing what you’re talking about, and it flows, so you know it’s different for different things and, of course, with the Braves you can joke a little more, you can have some fun.

Jeff Francoeur: 

You know, when you do the playoffs it’s a little more serious. Yeah, you know, I’ve really enjoyed it, man, it’s been a great second career and my wife Dags on me sometimes and she’s like I think you might be better at this and you did play.

Jeff Hopeck: 

Yeah, you’re, you’re definitely gifted at it. So you see a screen there. What’s coming on that Is that, like AI, given all sorts of numbers and crunching stuff, different things, right Like.

Jeff Francoeur: 

I’ll ask for certain shots or certain replays that we might not show on screen, but I want to see it, and so there’s. There’s a lot of different things. And then you know for like Brandon who my partner this past year you know, when he’s trying to call every pitch, it really helps sometimes to look at that screen, mm-hmm, because the moment that pitch is strong, you can see it’ll. It’ll come on their fastball slider to help tell you Got it. I’m as I say, I know it won’t last forever, but I still have great eyes and I’m good enough and lucky enough that I can look down.

Jeff Francoeur: 

Yeah and see the spin of the ball and realize what it was that’s now. I know that will go. Smolpes even told me like that will go away sometimes.

Jeff Hopeck: 

Yeah, that’ll go away. You’ll need the screen. That’s sort of like, I guess, flying a plane instruments and non-instruments. That’s awesome, okay. So Okay, you, you have that screen. You mentioned that you’ll call up first. How do you, how do you actually do that? What are you doing?

Jeff Francoeur: 

So you got so you got a little button. You have three buttons on there, one that you can talk to the producer. Yeah one for coughing if you need to, or whatever.

Jeff Hopeck: 

Exactly, and one for your stage manager.

Jeff Francoeur: 

If you need a coke, a coffee, just don’t get them next up.

Jeff Hopeck: 

But, so.

Jeff Francoeur: 

So basically, I can hit the truck down there and the whole truck can hear me and I can just be like Can I get a replay from the from the third base side? Yeah, in mine, and they’ll just put it in mine. So, brandon, it won’t affect them and he won’t hear me.

Jeff Hopeck: 

So, it’s.

Jeff Francoeur: 

It’s really cool Once you get that whole dynamic. I remember the first game I did, man, I was like it was rough, was it? I go back and listen to the first game ever now. So I’m like, ah, how did anybody listen to this? I had to shut me off in two seconds. It’s awesome.

Jeff Hopeck: 

Where did, where did the inspiration come for the podcast and tell us about the podcast.

Jeff Francoeur: 

So my wife and I have four kids and Ten, eight, five and three, okay, and so I, you know, I got out of this and I do a lot of speaking. I speak to different FCA groups, different youth groups, yeah, talk to teams, different stuff. You know a little bit of different things I can speak about. But I started coaching my kids in youth sports, man and I, and I didn’t like it, I didn’t like what I was seeing from the parents, I didn’t like the way that, at such a young age, you were forcing these kids to do this, do this, you know, and I just was like man, this stinks.

Jeff Francoeur: 

Yeah, so I meet Brit Lee, who worked for acuity, a lighting company, and I did a speaking thing for them. Okay, so me and Brit met no other reason than to set up what I was gonna speak about at their huge conference. Yeah, and it was a big deal, you know, they paid me great. I went there. So we met, we did all this and we just get talking about and he’s got kids that are just graduating high school and I’m talking about mine. So we just start talking about this and he’s like, hmm, kind of looked, looked at me and done. So he called Brad Williams, who’s another guy that we do the podcast with, and they’ve been thinking about this for years yeah, about how to do this the right time, and Brit called and said I think we got our guy.

Jeff Francoeur: 

Oh, that’s me, so they asked me to breakfast, and the only place I usually go to breakfast either wall flowers or Chick-fil-A, and we’re sitting there talking and I you know. They asked me to be a part of this thing and. No, you know, when they mentioned, I’m like what is this gonna be? 10 episodes, how’s this gonna be? But you know what, the more we kept having these athletes on these doctors, these mental health coaches it’s like dude the more I was just Just soaking up for myself coach in my, that’s right.

Jeff Francoeur: 

But the more I was having people that I knew and friends and comments be like man, this is awesome what you’re going and I told you this morning. I did one with Matt Ryan before I came here and Incredible stuff.

Jeff Hopeck: 

Yeah, just.

Jeff Francoeur: 

Everybody gives you something different that you can really use. And you know, one thing I love is almost every person that we’ve had on two things multi-sport athletes. They didn’t just specialize at 10 years old and put play one sport yeah. And number two is they had parents that demanded great effort but never pushed them that, never, you know there’s a difference. I tell, like I tell my kids if you’re gonna sign up to play a sport, we’re gonna work hard.

Jeff Francoeur: 

Yeah and you’re gonna finish the season, yeah, but if you don’t want to play it. My year old son, right now you don’t want to play baseball and when he came to me that last year I was like, okay, what do you want to play? And he, we’re playing lacrosse and he loves it. He loves it, I love it. If he would have came to me two years ago and told me I think I’d had a tough time Before I did these podcasts if you told me I don’t want to play baseball. Going dude, come on, that’s my sport.

Jeff Francoeur: 

Like yeah, I play right and so, as we go through all this stuff right, like the things I talked about, they’re getting passion and effort. You know, I love it, john Smoltz, that if, if the patch, if your kids passion for what they’re doing is greater, or if your passion is greater than your kids passion for what they’re doing, it’s never gonna end well.

Jeff Hopeck: 

It’s alright like. That’s why I tell my kids.

Jeff Francoeur: 

What do you want to do If I want Braden to play my son play baseball more than he does? Probably not gonna put a lot of effort right. He loves lacrosse and so he’s putting in all this effort. I don’t know what think about lacrosse. I mean, it’s actually been nice to go to the games and sit there.

Jeff Hopeck: 

You don’t know what’s going on. I’m like just hit somebody.

Jeff Francoeur: 

You know, see somebody move and put them on the ground.

Jeff Hopeck: 

I love it, so it’s been fun to kind of walk through this process and give parents.

Jeff Francoeur: 

You know the amount of money that’s spent on youth sports. Now, as we talk about the family dynamic, never home, never this it’s a lot, man, it’s a lot on these parents.

Jeff Hopeck: 

I love the quote you said a couple episodes ago. Where you go, parents, you, you don’t need to have a child who’s seven or eight years old traveling state to state to get in the big leagues.

Jeff Francoeur: 

No right, I mean I tell people I was ten years old Was the first year I played travel baseball and we traveled around a lot, not so much out of the state, but in Atlanta. Yeah, it’s the same thing when I was 11, when I was 12. I got burnt out right, I was done. I quit in May. I actually played the Atlanta Junior Golf Association when I was 12. You did the whole summer.

Jeff Hopeck: 

Oh, that’s good, I’m on a star team.

Jeff Francoeur: 

My dad said you know what, instead of playing cuz I was one of the best ones in the state instead of going to play with this top team here, why don’t you play on this travel team with all your buddies? Now we got me. We got boat raced a lot. Oh yeah, I beat right, but I was with my buddies who I wanted to be. Well, that’s right that never changed.

Jeff Francoeur: 

I never played travel ball in another team, never played with those guys. Yeah, my sophomore year in high school we get beat up. Yeah, and my junior high school we get beat up, but I was playing with my buddies, oh that’s awesome.

Jeff Hopeck: 

When did you start golfing?

Jeff Francoeur: 

Oh three. So my dad played in College at Vanderbilt. My brother play for golf was first sport ever did it was yeah, I love golf, I just don’t have the temperament got it once. I lose it.

Jeff Hopeck: 

Oh god, I lose it’s gone, it’s not coming back. No, but you couldn’t have that in bait. I mean, you couldn’t have been that way. Baseball.

Jeff Francoeur: 

No, I was kind of hold it together, but I made it All right.

Jeff Hopeck: 

What’s it like Now, with these parents, you sitting back and watching this, knowing what you went through in your life. And then here in the, let’s talk about the downside of it, the terrible stories, the to coaching from the stand and this is what I say.

Jeff Francoeur: 

Like people ask me what do you want out of sports for your kids? I don’t want my kids to go to the big leagues if it happens, awesome. But that’s not my first goal, right, my goal is for my kids to develop, like I talked about, a passion for something, a work ethic, for your kid to learn Discipline, to learn how to work through adversity.

Jeff Hopeck: 

Mm-hmm.

Jeff Francoeur: 

You know, man, I stink right now, but if I keep working I’m gonna get better. That’s it. That might not take them to the big leagues, that might not take them to the WNBA, yeah, but if that happens, great, great. But what do we want our kids to have the best Experience they can have, have the most fun, make memories, play with friends. And another thing that you don’t realize as much that parent-kid relationship. When they go off to high school, they go off to college. Yeah, how many of those are damaged through parents that demand so much of their kids in sports? You know my wife’s reading a book right now. That is incredible. I’m not a huge book reader, I should. And I forgot the name of it. It talks about our kids. These days there’s so many Mental breakdowns, right, there’s so many kids at 15, 16, losing their minds.

Jeff Francoeur: 

Yeah, Yep and it’s like why is that? Right like, you can talk about a hundred different things, but I said this think about the pressures of our kids to fit in schools, mm-hmm, social media, be in the cool crowd, what you’re wearing, this and that all day they feel that pressure. Well, what did sports do? Because we felt that back in the day, right Like I wanted to be accepted at school, sure, but then you’d go to sports and all that stress would go away. Right, you’re running around, you’re tackling people, you’re throwing a baseball, you’re doing it. Now these kids are feeling almost more stress outside of school playing sports, to to be great, to win, to do this, that all they’re feeling is stress all day long. Oh, and they’re 14, 15, 16, 13 years old. They don’t know how to deal with that, can’t?

Jeff Hopeck: 

I’m 40 and I don’t know how to deal with right, right, how the hell some 13 year old gonna deal with it. Right and the reality is their truth be told. They’re so far away from making. Oh, exactly the parents think they’re probably like this close and you know what my sister, my brother might have worked harder than I did.

Jeff Francoeur: 

Honestly, my sister shot baskets layups every day every day. But you know what? God gifted me this special talent. I don’t know why. Yeah, thank him for it. It could have been the dude next to me.

Jeff Hopeck: 

Right, but it was me.

Jeff Francoeur: 

And you know so. It’s like when people talk about I saw Mike Trout, dude Mike Trout’s one in a million right, a billion right.

Jeff Hopeck: 

A billion.

Jeff Francoeur: 

I mean, oh Tani, these guys, like God, touched them and said you’re going to be so good.

Jeff Hopeck: 

Right. You know, and small he made a great point.

Jeff Francoeur: 

He’s like you could take the best nine year old at a park playing basketball, playing, football playing. Make them sit out for two years and not play. Don’t let them touch a football and then put them back in 11. Chances are there’s still going to be one or two of the best kids in that thing.

Jeff Hopeck: 

Get out because they’re that talented Right, right, yeah.

Jeff Francoeur: 

Now, it doesn’t mean you don’t work, it doesn’t mean you don’t try to get better. Yeah. And like I said someday, if it’s 16, 17 years old and my kids decide, dad, I really want to play in college, now let’s go for it.

Jeff Hopeck: 

Yeah.

Jeff Francoeur: 

They know the stakes of what’s going on and they know the realistic expectation of what’s going on.

Jeff Hopeck: 

Yeah, where did you have Joshua one nine?

Jeff Francoeur: 

I read on my batten gloves on the back of the on the right on the front where you were, you were, you buckle, and it was so cool because I throw them out all the so I went through like two pairs of shoes every year. I was very. I wore one glove all year. But there’s one thing that I do under armor probably spent $100,000 on batting gloves on me a year.

Jeff Hopeck: 

I.

Jeff Francoeur: 

I I’d strike out. I’d be like these are done. You know, throw them out. I’d go through two pairs again, I’d slide and get the dirt on them up. Those are done.

Jeff Hopeck: 

They’re gone.

Jeff Francoeur: 

But it was a great way right To witness to people and it was cool, man, I got a lot of different emails and notes from people years after the fact.

Jeff Hopeck: 

Yeah.

Jeff Francoeur: 

I read that verse.

Jeff Hopeck: 

You just write it on like marker.

Jeff Francoeur: 

No, so I did the first year and then, as part of my deal, they stitched it on for me. They did, they did Under armor is really cool that that’s incredible.

Jeff Hopeck: 

All right, last question for you looking back. You sitting here, you’re looking back at your life. What, what would you say is the most pivotal? Whether it was a person, a book, a statement, a song, whatever. It was most pivotal, pivotal point that shaped you into who you are today, not the athlete, the human being that you are today. Man that’s a great question, I mean, or a couple.

Jeff Francoeur: 

No, I would. I would say you know again. I’ve said this to the most three impactful people in my life, from my mom and dad and my wife. I’ve known my wife since third grade. As she said, my sophomore and junior year in high school. I was too cocky and she would not date me. And we finally started dating my senior year.

Jeff Hopeck: 

Oh, what gave. As I tell her.

Jeff Francoeur: 

I was confident, not cocky, she’s like no, you were cocky. Probably all right. You know you got growing up to do yeah, sure, and. But you know there’s. There’s two stories that stick out. One with my wife. I’ll never forget I had to go back to AAA for three months in 2014 to get back to the big.

Jeff Francoeur: 

And that was how many years of playing after being in the big leagues for nine years nine years back. So now you’re flying Southwest at six in the morning You’re staying at. You know a perfect example of the story I’m going to tell you as we stayed at the Golden Nugget in Vegas and it was Easter Sunday. I’ll never forget. Now you want to go out there and see something funny. Go out there and Easter Sunday.

Jeff Francoeur: 

A little different Vegas, you know but I’ll never forget, because my wife traveled everywhere with me. Man, she set up home, she did this and I got feeling sorry for myself and I wasn’t playing well in AAA and her mom was there with us and we went to dinner that night and I remember her looking and she was like look, if you’re going to suck, come on home. She was like, seriously, if you’re going to suck and feel sorry for yourself, we had a kid, we had another one of the way. She’s like I need you at home, right.

Jeff Hopeck: 

And she’s.

Jeff Francoeur: 

And she was like now, if you’re going to go for this and put the pat and put the effort in, let’s do it. And it was really a wake up call from that standpoint and stuff, because I think of the big leagues, sometimes you can get so used to everybody doing things for you doing whatever. And it was like she kind of brought me back to my roots of like, how did I get here? Work ethic, man, but I’ll work in people, yeah, and I did. We are a AAA manager. Pat Murphy, who’s now the manager of the Brewers, got just got hired. It was awesome. We met at one o’clock every day. Man, we started hitting, we were sweating, we were doing this and I got back to the big leagues and played for what? Three, three and a half years after that.

Jeff Francoeur: 

So, you know, that was always kind of one of those cool moments yeah. You know for me, and probably the other one was, you know, just the relationship I had, you know, with my dad, and I always love to tell the story. I tell it and this will be it, I promise, but when I was with the Braves and got done. We go to the beach every summer, so me and my dad are floating out in the ocean. We love the ocean. Man, I’m obsessed with it and I will live by the ocean.

Jeff Francoeur: 

Full time one day when the kids are gone, just know.

Jeff Hopeck: 

I don’t know where, but somewhere. Got it.

Jeff Francoeur: 

And but I remember my, my dad. We were floating out there and I just asked him like Dad, you’ve been to so many of my games he went to every park. He’d surprise me sometimes.

Jeff Hopeck: 

And it was so cool.

Jeff Francoeur: 

And I remember thinking what was your favorite part of me in the big leagues? And you know I was expecting like a walk off home or this or that. My dad said my favorite part was when I came to Cincinnati to surprise you one time and you didn’t know I was there and you went over for three strikeouts.

Jeff Francoeur: 

And he was like you had a horrible game, team loss this and that, and you’re walking out to get on the bus and before I could yell at you to surprise you and tell you were there, he’s like bunch of little kids asked you for your autograph and he’s like all these other guys just got on the bus, got on the bus and he’s like you stopped and signed for 12 minutes for 30 kids and he’s like that moment there and look, I’m not a saint, I guarantee there’s days I got on the bus too, but he’s like, for the most part he’s like at that point I knew that I had raised a good son and a good human being right, Talk about interesting humans like a good human, that I knew me and your mom had done a good job. That’s incredible. And it’s so great man he called me over we hugged, we went and I think got a beer.

Jeff Francoeur: 

Talked how bad I was that day, you know. But, but I would say, enjoy the process, enjoy the journey, yeah, and that’s what my dad taught me, I think, more than anything, my mom, my mom too, my mom and dad to enjoy the journey that you’re on. Might not always be the journey you want to go on, yeah, but you know it’s a fun journey.

Jeff Hopeck: 

That’s awesome. I’m so glad you used that phrase at the end and tied it all up. I wrapped it all together because that is, when we started the show, the reason that I wanted to have you in the seat here. You know, obviously incredible MLB, all the but to have the, the package, you know to be out there and have the name in the community. So I will say this to end the world needs more of you guys, more of you.

Jeff Francoeur: 

Thank you. That means a lot and, as I said, I think the good Lord every day that he gave me the moms and dad, or the mom and dad that I have, and and and right. Put my wife, you know, put your surround yourself with good people, man, people that will be honest with you too.

Jeff Hopeck: 

Yeah.

Jeff Francoeur: 

And that’s what you need right. That’s it I need a bunch of yes, man.

Jeff Hopeck: 

Yes, absolutely.

Jeff Francoeur: 

So I have someone that’ll tell you the truth, right.

Jeff Hopeck: 

I can’t. As my kids grow up, I can’t wait for them to see this episode, I can’t wait for them to read the notes, but but just to really have you as a role model. Thank you very much, you know. So thanks for your time today.

Jeff Francoeur: 

Oh, anytime, man, Hopefully we can do it again.

Jeff Hopeck: 

Awesome interview. Like I said, so much that’s not on the internet is is. My goal is to really hear somebody’s story, so thank you. Thanks again, man, thanks for joining us here. There was just so much about this story, so much motivation, so much inspiration, a great come up story. And, as always, please rate us on the podcast platform, whether it’s YouTube or platform of your choice. Ratings help our show. Thank you so much for joining us and we’ll see you next time.

Jeff Francoeur: 

Thanks for listening to the interesting humans podcast with Jeff Hopek.

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