Frank Bettger

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Frank Bettger
Born: (1888-02-15)February 15, 1888
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Died: November 27, 1981(1981-11-27) (aged 93)
Wynnewood, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Batted: Both
Threw: Right
MLB debut
May 21, 1910, for the St. Louis Cardinals
Last MLB appearance
October 13, 1910, for the St. Louis Cardinals
MLB statistics
Batting average.202
Home runs0
Runs batted in6

Franklin Lyle "Frank" Bettger (1888–1981) was an American self-help author and the father of longtime actor Lyle Bettger.

Life and career[edit]


Bettger played Major League Baseball with the St. Louis Cardinals in 1910 under the name Frank Betcher. He started out his career playing for Johnstown, Pennsylvania in the Tri-State League, making US$175 a month in 1907 (equivalent to $5,723 in 2023). While there, he was demoted. Disappointed, he asked the manager why he was demoted. The manager responded that he lacked enthusiasm. Bettger told the manager: "I'm just trying to hide my nervousness."[1] The manager advised: "Try something else. That's not working."[1]

From that moment on, he played with vigorous enthusiasm. Starting with a D League team in 1908 at just US$25 a month (equivalent to $848 in 2023), it wasn't long before he proved himself, and he signed with the Connecticut State League for US$185 a month (equivalent to $6,274 in 2023). Two years later, in 1910, he had worked his way up to the majors with St. Louis, but his baseball career was cut short by an arm injury.[2]

Business career[edit]

After his brief baseball career, Bettger returned to his native Philadelphia, where he started collecting accounts for a furniture store on a bike. He then started selling life insurance for the Fidelity Mutual Life Insurance Co. of Pennsylvania but was not initially successful, and considered quitting after 10 months. During a moment of reflection, he remembered what his baseball manager told him about his lack of enthusiasm. So he made a commitment to himself to start acting enthusiastically in his insurance presentations.

He also met a successful salesman and took his advice to read the Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin. A light went on in his mind when he realized that Franklin's Socratic method of asking "key" questions might work with selling policies. He tried it, it worked, and Bettger began to perfect his technique with great enthusiasm.[citation needed]

Writer and lecturer[edit]

After succeeding in life insurance sales and becoming Top Salesman for 20 years with Fidelity Mutual, he met Dale Carnegie. Carnegie encouraged Bettger to write his first best-selling books: How I Raised Myself from Failure to Success in Selling[3] and How I Multiplied My Income and Happiness in Selling.[4] How I Raised Myself... was translated into over a dozen languages, including British English, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, French, German Hungarian, Italian, Japanese, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Serbian, Spanish, and Swedish. Bettger also gave a series of lectures to Jaycees organizations nationwide with Dale Carnegie.[citation needed]

Frank Bettger wrote a last book, entitled How I Learned the Secrets of Success in Selling, in 1960. The book focused on his life and lessons he learned during his short baseball career, and reflected how those lessons learned at an early age helped mold him into the success he became.[citation needed]

Later life[edit]

Bettger held insurance policies that would have benefited his wife after he died, but he lived into his 90s. Consequently, he and his wife outlived their assets. Members of the National Speakers Association contributed to help the couple meet their financial needs.[5] After Frank died, Mrs. Bettger repaid the money from insurance proceeds. The money was then put into a fund dedicated to others in need, thus providing the original funding for the Professional Speakers Benefit Fund (PSBF). The mission of the PSBF is to help other members who may be indigent, face catastrophic health emergencies or losses, or outlive their assets.[citation needed]

In popular culture[edit]

In the Mad Men season 6 episode "A Tale of Two Cities" (2013, S06E10), enthusiastic account man Bob Benson is shown listening to a recording of Bettger's first book and later taking actions that earn him increased responsibilities.[citation needed]

The book is also referenced in Whit Stillman's Barcelona as one of the books utilized by one of the main characters, a salesman.[citation needed]


  1. ^ a b Bettger, Frank (1947). How I Raised Myself from Failure to Success in Selling. Chapter 1, "How One Idea Multiplied My Income and Happiness".
  2. ^ Morris, Jack (2021). Frank Betcher. Society for American Baseball Research. Retrieved on 2021-10-27 from
  3. ^ Bettger, Frank (June 1952). How I Raised Myself from Failure to Success in Selling. Prentice Hall Trade. ISBN 0133994023.
  4. ^ Bettger, Frank (1966). How I Multiplied My Income and Happiness in Selling. Prentice-Hall, Inc. ASIN B001T8FASY.
  5. ^ National Speakers Association website Archived 2006-12-17 at the Wayback Machine

External links[edit]