An all-time favorite: Julio Franco can drive at 55

Julio Franco I never knew as a person. Don’t remember ever interviewing him. He left the Rangers after the 1993 season and I didn’t really start going to games as a media member until 1995 or so.

But Julio was one of my favorite Rangers. He was so lively, so unique and very good at what he did. That he loved the game came across whether you were in the park or watching on TV.

Loved his right-handed stroke with power to drive the ball to right field. He could run a little in his younger days, too.

And we used to try and copy his batting style of keeping his bottom fingers off the bottom of the bat. We figured out Julio was a strong man, not just anyone can successfully hold the bat that way.

If I’d been in Fort Worth Tuesday I think I’d have had to take a trip to LaGrave Field. Franco, at age 55, came back and played for the Fort Worth Cats in the Independent United League. He went 1-for-3 with a walk and run scored.

I’m going to pass on the shot that Franco could help that team over in Arlington. His MLB days are over. But Franco did play in the majors until age 49 with his latter years served as a pinch-hit specialist.

He played parts of 23 seasons in the big leagues. And also played with teams in Mexico, Japan and South Korea. He is said to have more than 4,200 hits as a pro.He hit .298 and had 2,586 hits in the major leagues.

And his comeback brought back some good Ranger memories from years gone by.

Baseball isn’t taught as a lifetime sport. But it’s become that for one Julio Franco.

 

 

 

The Associated Press

Julio Franco can still hit at age 55.

Franco, the three-time All-Star and former American League batting champion, went 1 for 3 with a walk and a run scored Tuesday night in his first game for the Fort Worth Cats of the independent United League. He is a player-coach during the Cats’ season-opening nine-game homestand.

At 49, Franco was the oldest active player in the majors when he played his last game for Atlanta in 2007. He has now played professionally in five different decades, starting in the minors in 1978 at age 19.

Franco played parts of 23 major league seasons for eight teams from 1982-2007, with stints in Japan, Mexico and South Korea during that time.

He has more than 4,200 hits in professional baseball.