Child Of '60s Finds It's A Different Game

Franklin Says Today's Athletes Have More Training But Must Specialize On One


June 16, 1991|By Glenn P. Graham | Glenn P. Graham,Staff writer

Imagine owning the all-time scoring record in soccer at a small highschool and then going on to a major university on a full basketball scholarship and also playing baseball there.

Chances are you won'tfind too many athletes these days with the ability to excel equally at three sports the way Billy Franklin, a former Mount Airy High standout and University of Maryland grad, did in the early 1960s.

"Things have gotten much more specialized these days," said Franklin, who coached basketball at Bowie High in Prince George's County for 20 years before retiring four years ago and is still a work study coordinator at the school.

"Training and coaching is much better now and in order to excel in one sport you almost have to go out and play that sport all year long."

In his high school days, Franklin played center forward in soccer (scoring more than 50 goals in his career), anchored the infield at shortstop for the baseball team and played point guard in basketball, setting the all-time single-season school scoring record.

"He is one of the better athletes to ever playat Carroll County," said Fred Baker, who coached basketball at MountAiry, which merged with Sykesville High to form South Carroll in themid-1960s.

"He was one of the two or three players who helped us turn the program around at Mount Airy," said Baker, the athletic director at South Carroll. "He was a good outside shooter, but he really knew how to drive to the basket. He's probably still one of the best guards to ever play basketball in Carroll County."

Franklin noted that athletes in his day didn't have the opportunities players of today have with the number of summer programs and camps available.

"There were no summer basketball leagues or anything like that," Franklin said. "I played baseball more than anything else during the summer. We had some state championship (American) Legion teams in Frederick.

"Back then, we only had about 50 students graduating at Mount Airy, and the good athletes pretty much played every sport. I can remember (Fred) Baker taking me to some track meets occasionally, so I even ran a little track at times."

He went on to have a solid basketball career at Maryland, lettering all four years, and started two years in baseball while earning a bachelor's degree in physical education and biology. He later earned his master's degree in administration at George Washington University.

"In college, baseball kinda took a back seat to basketball," Franklin said.

He has many memorable moments from his basketball days at Maryland -- guarding former NBA great Rick Barry, who then played for the University of Miami Hurricanes, and winning the Sugar Bowl Classic in New Orleans his senior year were among them.

"Winning the Sugar Bowl Classic in New Orleans was special. We beat Dayton in the semifinals and then beat the University of Houston in the finals. They had some great players on that team -- Elvin Hayes (former Houston Rocket and Washington Bullet All-Star) and Don Chaney (now coaching the Houston Rockets)," he said.

Healso had the opportunity to play with a couple of prominent coaches of today, including the University of Maryland's Gary Williams and Towson State's Terry Truax.

"Williams couldn't throw the ball in theocean, but he was very quick," Franklin said.

Today, Franklin is busy with his position at Bowie and also is in the real estate game for Mount Vernon Realty. He also coaches a golf team in Prince George's County and does some golfing himself.

"It's improving," he said of his golf game. "I'm still fairly competitive in everything I do and an athlete never really loses that competitive nature. I just have toned it down a bit over the years."

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