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Frank Betcher

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Franklin Lyle Betcher
born Franklin Lyle Bettger

  • Bats Both, Throws Right
  • Height 5' 11", Weight 173 lb.

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[edit] Biographical Information

Frank Betcher had a brief career in baseball, highlighted by a cup of coffee as a switch-hitting utility infielder in 1910 with the St. Louis Cardinals.

Nineteen years old and playing in the low minors at Johnstown, PA in 1907, Betcher was stunned when he was released by the club in mid-season. His manager, Bert Conn, informed Betcher it was his laconic playing style, which indicated laziness, that got him released. Betcher, a naturally energetic and enthusiastic sort who had adopted a low-key approach to mask fear and nervousness on the baseball field, resolved to never be mistakenly perceived as lazy or unenthusiastic again.

He soon caught on with the Chester, PA club, a D League team in the Atlantic League where Betcher was to make $25 a month, a fraction of the $175 he had been making in Johnstown. Betcher resolved to be enthusiastic regardless, and it got him noticed right away. One of his older teammates (Danny Meehan) took to him, and got him a tryout with New Haven in the Connecticut State League. Betcher made the most of it, and was signed for $185 a month. The New Haven papers, noting his fired up style of play, nicknamed him "Pep".

Two years later, Betcher was in the major leagues. According to him, his career was cut short in a game against the Chicago Cubs, when he attempted to throw across his body on an infield play and seriously injured his arm.

Betcher (now back to his birth name, Frank Bettger), who had never even gone to high school, spent the first few years out of baseball working dead-end jobs, then took up selling insurance. He was a dismal failure at selling initially, and dispirited and on the verge of giving it up, when he ran across a Dale Carnegie seminar run by Carnegie himself. Carnegie's positive approach reminded Bettger of his own experiences back in 1907, when an emphasis on enthusiasm and a positive approach had saved his baseball career. He rededicated himself to his insurance business and soon was a successful salesman.

Bettger went on to a lucrative career in business and later as a motivational speaker and author. He wrote several books on successful selling, which were widely read and were touted by Carnegie and Norman Vincent Peale, among others. His most successful book was How I Raised Myself From Failure to Success in Selling. Some of his writings are still used today as motivational guides for selling. In his books and speeches, Bettger always cited his experiences in Johnstown and Chester and New Haven and beyond as pivotal points in his development into a successful businessman.

Though his baseball career was brief and mostly uneventful, Frank Bettger got a whole lot of mileage in life from the lessons he learned playing the game, mostly on minor league fields, far removed from the limelight.

Bettger's son, Lyle Bettger, was a well-known and prolific character actor in movies and television, 1950-1980.

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