In the history of the Midwest Collegiate League, only one man has won the league championship as both a player and a manager.
That man is Kevin Franchetti – and he’ll have the opportunity to add to his MCL legacy as Northwest Indiana Oilmen President Don Popravak has announced the hiring of Franchetti as the team’s new manager.
The franchise has tapped into its alumni base with the hire as Franchetti played for the Oilmen in their inaugural season of 2012, a year that culminated with a league championship. He returned to the MCL as a manager in 2017, guiding the Southland Vikings to the league title.
“Kevin brings tremendous credentials to his new position as Oilmen manager,” Popravak said. “He knows what it takes to succeed in our league and has an unparalleled track record of success in the MCL as both a player and a manager. The experience that he has accrued during his baseball career will serve him well in his new role. We’re confident that Kevin is the right choice to sustain our success in both winning games and developing professional talent.”
A Highland native, Franchetti graduated from Andrean High School before playing in 95 games over three seasons at Ball State. He transferred to Carson Newman for his final collegiate season, hitting eight home runs and driving in 28 in his lone year with the Eagles. Franchetti, a catcher during his playing days, spent the 2012 summer with the Oilmen and appeared in 20 games.
Fast-forward six years, and now Franchetti is set to take the helm for a team that has won three league championships, including two in the last three years. He played for inaugural manager Justin Huisman, who guided the team from 2012-2014. Franchetti replaces Adam Enright, the manager from 2015-2018.
“Taking over the Oilmen is like taking over the Yankees of this league,” Franchetti said. “It’s something you dream about, but don’t ever think is going to happen. I’m getting this opportunity because of the relationships I have within the league. Accepting the position was a no-brainer. I want to thank Justin for giving me the chance to play with the Oilmen. I also want to thank Adam, who helped me get back in the league with the Vikings, and now I’m following in his footsteps. I want to thank Don and the entire organization for having faith in me for this position.”
Franchetti reached the professional ranks in a distinguished playing career that advanced past the college level. He played three seasons in the Frontier League from 2013-2015, mostly with the Lake Erie Crushers after a brief stint with the Normal CornBelters. He is one of 13 players in Oilmen history who have gone on to reach the professional ranks, a number that continues to grow with each passing year.
“As a Northwest Indiana native, I want to continue to make it a priority to bring Northwest Indiana players into the organization,” Franchetti said. “Playing for the Oilmen was the greatest experience I’ve had in my life. I want to bring in players who will make it a good experience for the fans by putting a competitive team on the field. Getting the Oilmen job is something that is hard to put into words. It’s very humbling.”
Franchetti spent one season in charge of the Southland Vikings, guiding the team to an unlikely championship run through the MCL Playoffs in 2017.
“I sat down with my players and explained to them what I expected from them and told them we were going to do things the right way,” Franchetti said. “They bought in. We struggled at first, but when the playoffs came around, we started clicking. I still talk to the players who I coached with the Vikings. One of my biggest goals is to help young players learn the game and understand that you need to go about your business a certain way. I want to teach life lessons and show my players what it’s like in the baseball world on and off the field. I built great relationships during my season with the Vikings and I can’t even begin to image what that’s going to be like with the Oilmen.”
After his professional playing days concluded, Franchetti started his coaching career as a graduate assistant at Quincy University, where he was eventually promoted to assistant coach. He filled a variety of roles during his time on the Hawks staff, first serving as the assistant pitching coach before transitioning to working with catchers and hitters.
During his prep career at Andrean, Franchetti guided the 59ers to the 2009 state championship and a No. 29 national ranking by Baseball America. He was a two-time all-area and all-conference selection and a two-time team MVP.
“If you trace baseball history, it seems like catchers often make the best managers, and Kevin was an elite catcher for me, in college and beyond,” Andrean coach Dave Pishkur said. “He has amassed a great deal of knowledge from coaches who have been around for a long time. As a player, he had a tremendous work ethic and was a weight-room junky. He was a leader both vocally and through his actions. I’m sure he’ll be successful in his new position with the Oilmen.”
Franchetti becomes the third manager of an Oilmen organization that has been a consistent winner since the team’s inception in 2012. The Oilmen have posted seven consecutive winning seasons, made seven straight playoff appearance, won three league championships and reached the MCL Championship Series on four occasions.