Home field advantage

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Home field advantage
Ryan Franklin’s new diamond in Shawnee

By Linda Miller

Professional baseball player Ryan Franklin, a pitching whiz from Spiro, laid down his glove in 2011 in favor of a career that still keeps him in the swing of the sport without months on the road.

Along with spending more time with family, less travel afforded him another opportunity: Building a new home to share with his wife, Angie, and their four children.

It took 18 months of construction, but the family moved into their nearly 13,000-square-foot home in Shawnee a week before Christmas, complete with holiday decorations in place.

For the former St. Louis Cardinals pitcher whose fastball averaged 92 miles per hour, the pace must have seemed sluggish at times. But a dream home can’t be rushed.

“I knew it wasn’t going to be anything very quick,” said Franklin, 41. “I knew to get it the way we wanted … would take a little longer and require more time.”

Working with contractors and making hundreds of decisions wasn’t new to the Franklins. The two built their previous home with Angie spearheading much of the work. That endeavor was like dipping your toes in a pool. This compares more to a dive in the deep, blue ocean.

“It helped,” he said of their previous homebuilding experience, “but nothing prepares you for a home this size.”

The house that baseball built

Sitting on 40 acres in east Shawnee, the Franklins’ home is beautifully appointed with 12-foot ceilings, hand-scraped, seven-inch white oak floors, arched doorways, carved architectural elements and a sprinkling of antique furnishings that mix with more traditional pieces.

Its 13,000 square feet accommodates five bedrooms each with its own bathroom. Plus a study, great room and work-out room. And an extra large kitchen and family room, homework station and a media/hang-out/sleep room for the kids and their friends. Franklin’s man cave sports five televisions, a surprising red chandelier and offers a great view of the pool and patio.

The master suite, at the opposite end of the house from the other bedrooms, features dual closets, sinks, toilets, tubs and showers, along with a coffee bar and laundry room. One of Ryan’s baseball bats accents his closet island. Dark wood gives his bathroom a masculine touch; Angie’s is light and airy.

With the exception of Casen, who turns 2 in May, each of the children had input about the décor in their bedrooms.

Casen’s room showcases a wall made of 150-year-old barn wood. Son Logan, 16, wanted a hanging bed and a secret passageway like the one in the movie “Narnia.” Daughter Teegan, 9, requested a hanging chair, a patchwork sofa and built-in bed. Kaylin, 14, preferred bold color and a large window seat.

The two-story home, with about 10,000 square feet on the first floor, also has a pool with diving rock, spacious patio framed with arches and remote control phantom screens, a four-car garage and a large basement safe room with eight-inch thick walls and ceilings. If they have to scoot there quickly, wi-fi and a television will keep them in touch with what’s happening weather-wise.

It wouldn’t be smart to build a home this size without state-of-the-art technology. Family members can access security alarms, patio screens, lighting and almost every other detail from their phones.

Tablets are placed throughout the house for easy access.

Franklin said he and his wife agree that their favorite room is the large kitchen, breakfast area and family room. The kitchen has two islands, 36-inch paneled sub zero freezer and refrigerator, two sinks, two ovens and stunning, double-thick granite countertops.

The house is everything they hoped it would be, he said. They worked with locals and used locally made products when possible. That was important.

Soon after they moved in, the house was filled with their children’s friends. “We’ve always had more than just our four at our house,” Franklin said.

And they’re already looking forward to a large family Thanksgiving with parents, siblings and cousins. One thing they don’t have to worry about is having enough space.

Designing woman

The Frankins met interior designer Andrea Meister at a show house where she had designed one of the rooms. The three clicked. She joined the project from the beginning. They liked her ideas. They trusted her.

She even redesigned the architect’s master bath plan from its original one toilet and one closet. It wasn’t accommodating or special enough for a busy husband and wife.

Most of all, Franklin said he and his wife wanted their home to feel comfortable despite its generous size. “Kind of cozy feeling throughout the house, and she did a good job,” he said.

Only a few pieces from their previous home made it to the new one. Some of the new furniture was custom-made in Mexico. The dining room table is a European antique that seats 14. Most of the décor is classic, not trendy, with a few antiques sprinkled throughout. “It’s timeless,” said Meister, who owns Meister Designs in Edmond.

Meister said the Franklin home is the largest she’s worked on from beginning to end, with no builder. It was an easy professional relationship.

“I knew pretty much from the beginning what they like,” she said. They agreed to almost everything suggested.

“It’s almost a lot more pressure that way,” she said. “I thought, ‘I better nail it the first time because they blindly trust me to finish this deal.’ ”

Field of dreams

Franklin grew up in Spiro and graduated high school in 1991. He was named to the All-State baseball team before attending Seminole Junior College. His record, 20-0 over two years, caught the attention of the pros.

The Seattle Mariners drafted him after college. He spent almost six years in the minors before being called to the majors in 1999 and then playing with the Mariners, Philadelphia Phillies, Cincinnati Reds and St. Louis Cardinals. He was a Major League All Star, a World Series champion and won an Olympic Gold Medal in 2000.

Franklin retired in 2011 and now serves as a special assistant to the general manager for the Cardinals. He scouts prospects as well as St. Louis’ farm teams. Travel is limited, which suits him just fine. It’s the dream job many retired players want.

He was also lucky while on the baseball field. “Nineteen years I played and I only went on the disability list one time and that was for strep throat, but nothing for arm injuries.”

Franklin moved to Shawnee in 1995. “Mostly because I loved the girl in Shawnee,” he said.
Now he doesn’t want to live anywhere else. And he can’t even think about building another home.

Not unless someone makes him an offer he can’t refuse.
This is his dream home, but is it his wife’s?
“Her house would be on the beach,” he said.

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