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Julio Franco, 55, to Play for Fort Worth Cats

May 21 2014, 10:30pm CDT | by , in News | Latest Sports News

Julio Franco, 55, to Play for Fort Worth Cats
Photo credit: Getty Images
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Fifty-five-year-old former MLB batting champion Julio Franco joined the United Baseball League's Fort Worth Cats as a player and coach for the first home stand of the 2014 season.

Fifty-five-year-old former MLB batting champion Julio Franco has joined the Forth Worth Cats of the United Baseball League.

Nathan Dwelle of the Cats' official website wrote more about the development: 

"The Fort Worth Cats' general manager, Craig Brasfield, prouldly announced today that former major leaguer Julio Franco will join the Fort Worth Cats baseball Club as player/coach for the first home stand of the 2014 season, which begins on Tuesday, May 20. 

"Based upon Franco's addition, the United League has extended the Cats' initial homestand through Wednesday, May 28. Franco's addition to the team will allow him to join a rare fraternity of players to play five decades of professional baseball. 

"Julio Franco, a former Texas Ranger, has a long and decorated Major League Baseball career that spanned 26 years and included play with eight different MLB teams, two Japanese League teams, one Mexican League squad and one other in Korea. 

"In 2004, Franco passed Cap Anson as the oldest regular-season player and thereafter became the oldest MLB player to hit a home run, a grand slam, a pinch-hit home run, multiple home runs in a single game, and to steal two bases in a single game. 

"Franco compiled over 4,200 hits in his professional playing career (major, minor and foreign leagues), making him one of only seven known players with at least 4,000 professional hits (joining the likes of Pete Rose, Ty Cobb, Hank Aaron, Jigger Statz, Stan Musial and Ichiro Suzuki). 

"During the prime of his career, Franco was a three-time All-Star, five-time Silver Slugger Award winner, an All-Star Game MVP (1990) and an American League batting champion (1991). 

"Franco was a consistent run producer and feared hitter throughout his playing career. In addition, Julio was a fan favorite everywhere he played and particularly in the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex as a member of the Texas Rangers (1989-1993).

"I'm very excited about the opportunity to play and coach in Fort Worth and reconnect with my friends, former teammates and Texas Rangers staff members,' said Julio Franco. 'I love Fort Worth and I'm very excited about the opportunity to work with the younger players and entertain the fans. 

"'I'm excited to have Julio as both a hitting coach and player,' Mike Marshall, current Cats manager and a playing contemporary of Franco during their respective careers, exclaimed. 'Our players and fans are very lucky to get this opportunity and I'm sure Julio will make an immediate impact on the players and the community.'" 

The ageless Franco came through in the Cats' first game, producing a single and an RBI in a 10-1 rout of the Rio Grande Valley White Wings on May 20, per Dwelle's colleague, Tyler Owens. 

"Behind seven scoreless innings from starting pitcher Trent Montgomery and production up and down the lineup, the Fort Worth Cats defeated the Rio Grande Valley White Wings, 10-1, in game one of the 2014 season. 

"Former MLB batting champion Julio Franco, who was to play for the Cats for the first home stand, went 1 for 3 with a walk, single and run scored in his Cats debut. He also grounded out to third and grounded into a 5-4-3 double play."  

With this, Franco told ESPNDallas.com's Richard Durrett about his undying enthusiasm for baseball. 

"I want to stay in baseball and this is a neat opportunity for me to stay close to the game. 

"If you stay home, people forget about you and you may not get back in. I want to get back in as a coach, hitting coach, bench coach, future manager. This is a great opportunity."

On the topic of his fifth decade of playing pro baseball, Franco told Durrett,"That means a lot, but it doesn't stop there."

Cats general manager Craig Brasfield says the 55-year-old slugger maintaining good physical condition should bode well for the team, according to the ESPN Dallas update.

 

"I expect him to step in the box and be Julio Franco. He's 55 years old, but he's a professional and he's playing in a good league, so there's some competition.

"But a man that keeps in shape like he does and the work ethic that he displayed, he can do it. I saw him (Monday), and he's a man."  

For more of the hottest sports news, log on to Sport Balla today. 

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