Julio Franco proves baseball isn't a young man's game.
Julio Franco started his career with the Philadelphia Phillies in 1982 and retired from baseball while playing with the Atlanta Braves around 2007. But now the 55-year-old's looking to make a comeback with the United Baseball League's Fort Worth Cats. During the 2014 season, he will be in the position of player-coach for the homestand (May 20-28th). While position may not be permanent, he will accomplish what very few men dare to try.
Franco is looking to suit up for five consecutive decades and join Nick Altrock (1898-1933) and Minnie Miñoso (1949-1980) in the achievement. He already holds Major League Baseball records for being the oldest player to hit an MLB grand slam at the age of 47, and hitting a home run at the age of 48. In fact, the player broke his own grand slam record. In 2004, he was the oldest at 45.
Franco will be returning to the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex, where he played for the Texas Rangers from 1989-1993. According to the Fort Worth Cat's article, the player seems very excited to "reconnect with friends, former teammates, and Texas Ranger staff members." And the staff are happy to see him return. Former All-Star and current team manager, Mike Marshall, tells the Cats' website, "Our fans are very lucky to get this opportunity and I'm sure Julio will make an immediate impact on the players and the community."
For the 2013 season, Cats' management signed former All-Star Jose Conseco to play. That fact has some people wondering if Franco's signing also a gimmick, but considering Franco holds more than 4,000 runs in major, major, and minor leagues the question may be unnecessary.
Early in his career, Julio played in three All-Star games between 1989 and 1991, earning MVP All-Star in 1990. Franco led the 1991 American League all-time batting average (.341). Looking at the man's stats and record-breaking accomplishments, Marshall's confidence in Franco looks to be well-earned.