Monday, September 22, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Julio Franco begins baseball playing career again at 55

As an ageless immortal, Julio Franco will see the end of the world, as he undoubtedly witnessed the birth of it.

At 55 years old, Julio Franco could easily sit back in a cushy coaching gig somewhere and have the admiration of everybody on the staff. He last played as a 49-year old in the final season of a 23-year career.

However, the independent Forth Worth Cats have announced that Franco, who is 55 remember, will be joining them, as a player, for the 2014 season - making this the perfect time to look back on his storied career as an unkillable baseball machine.

Teams played for: 11

All-Star appearances: 3

Batting average: .298

MLB hits: 2,586

Total hits: 4,229

Home runs: 173

WAR: 43.4

- 1958: Julio Franco is born in Hato Mayor, Dominican Republic. This may have also taken place in 1954 or 1961; his true birth year differs depending on the source.

- 1982: Franco is one of five players traded from the Phillies to the Indians in exchange for prospect Von Hayes.

Franco faces pitcher Jim Kaat this year, and by 2006, he is the sole hitter in MLB to have faced a pitcher that had thrown to Ted Williams (Kaat faced Williams in 1959).

- 1986: Franco takes an up and in pitch from the A's Dave Stewart. Indians manager Pat Corrales comes out of the dugout and kicks Stewart, who punches Corrales in the face. Corrales goes down.

RBI Baseball is released for the NES. He is the last player listed in the game to play pro ball.

- 1988: Franco's fielding is one of the top topics of conversation at a meeting of the Northeastern Ohio Restaurant Association.

- 1991: After hitting an AL-leading .341 with the Rangers, Franco, "The King of Swing," wins his fourth consecutive Silver Slugger.

Over the summer, he is forced to give up the baby tiger he keeps as a pet due to city ordinances. 

- 1994: On pace for 100 RBI, Franco's career year is derailed when baseball goes on strike. Undeterred, he signs with the Chiba Lotte Marines in Japan and become the greatest player in league history at the time.

- 1996: With Cleveland at age 37, Franco reaches his first post season as an injury-riddled year in which he still hit .322. He will make six more post season appearances in his career (so far).

- 1989: Franco leads the league in grounding into double plays for the second time, with 27.

- 1999: In his only at-bat of the season, Franco strikes out as a member of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays.

However, he hits .423 in 93 games with the Mexican League.

- 2003: While talking with Jason Marquis in the Braves weight room, Franco leans on a barbell that drops an 80 pound weight and breaks his finger.

- 2004: Franco is the oldest player in baseball at 45 - older than his third base coach on the Braves, Terry Pendleton, who is 43.

- 2005: At 47, Franco is the oldest player to ever hit a grand slam, beating the previous record of 45 held by... Julio Franco. 

ESPN writer Dennis Tuttle says that "no one in baseball has a better body" than Franco, which remains tremendously unconfirmed.

- 2006: Pinch hitting in the eighth inning for the Mets, Franco hits a two-run shot and becomes to oldest active player to ever hit a home run at 47.

In September, Franco makes a start at third base, 24 years after his last start in the hot corner.

- 2007: In the second of his two-year deal with New York, Franco hits a home run off Randy Johnson into the pool at Chase Field. He also steals a base.

Franco tells the New York Times he sometimes eats 20 egg whites for breakfast.

- 2014: The independent Forth Worth Cats announce Julio Franco will play for them in the 2014 season.

Justin Klugh Philly.com
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