SI Vault
 
Old-timer's Game
Rick Reilly
February 21, 2005
Julio Franco will be playing baseball for the Atlanta Braves this season at the age of 47. He hit .309 in 2004 and just signed a one-year, $1 million deal.
Decrease font Decrease font
Enlarge font Enlarge font
February 21, 2005

Old-timer's Game

View CoverRead All Articles

Julio Franco will be playing baseball for the Atlanta Braves this season at the age of 47. He hit .309 in 2004 and just signed a one-year, $1 million deal.

I am 47 and just introduced prunes into my diet.

Julio Franco will be 47 this season, his 21st in the big leagues. I am 47 and in my 29th straight year out of baseball. Hell, I stopped playing softball 10 years ago. It just got too hard to take the extra base with a walker.

Julio Franco will be 47 this season and still looks like a Chippendales dancer. I am 47 and look like a Chippendale credenza.

Franco is still smiting line drives off pitchers who weren't even born when he got his first hit. Seriously, 33 players on major league rosters at the end of last season weren't alive when Franco played his first big league game, in 1982. Forget that. Franco is older than eight managers.

Franco is so old his ears still hurt from the Big Bang. His first baseball card was carved. He passed Pie Traynor on the alltime hit list last year and said, "Hey, I roomed with him!"

If it were allowed, Franco could become the first guy to get four hits in a game and cash a pension check on the same day. No, really. Retired players can start drawing their pensions at 45. It's just that nobody thought baseball's Dick Clark would come along. Do you realize Franco played at the same time as Ferguson Jenkins? And Jenkins was born during World War II!

Here's how old Franco is: When he broke into the majors with the Philadelphia Phillies, there was a lefty reliever with the New York Yankees, Dave LaRoche, who had a two-year-old he'd bring to the clubhouse. Today that toddler, Adam LaRoche, platoons with Franco at first base in Atlanta. Adam is 25. Franco has leftovers older than that.

Get this: After being traded to the Cleveland Indians, Franco finished second to Ron Kittle in the 1983 AL Rookie of the Year voting. Kittle retired 14 years ago! Franco came up the same year as Oil Can Boyd (hasn't been in the majors for 14 years), Don Mattingly (10) and Frank Viola (nine). Those guys are somewhere ordering creamed corn.

Four times in baseball history a player 43 or older has hit .284 or better in a season. Franco accounts for three of them. I'm telling you, the man will last longer than Friends reruns.

Continue Story
1 2 3