|THE TALES JULIO COULD TELL ...|
|LIFETIME BATTING AVERAGE WAS .298.|
THE FRONT PAGE
- There aren't many athletes who can say they played professionally for 31 years. Julio Franco, however, can. Counting stints in the Mexican, Japanese, South Korean and minor leagues, Franco wrung the most out of his career and talent. He played professionally every season from 1978-'08. That's pretty damn incredible, and he just missed the cut for being one of my Workforce Heroes. Franco wasn't a hanger-on either, like an aging lefty coming out of the pen for one batter. The man could sting the pill, even at age 48 with the Mets, when he became the oldest to homer in a major-league game. It came in '07 off Randy Johnson no less.
THE BACK PAGE
- Easy on the eyes and the anniversary logo watermark is a nice touch.
- He was starting to string together some nice seasons, culminating in his fourth consecutive Silver Slugger award and the AL batting title with a .341 average in '91.
- The end result of Franco's exaggerated coiled stance.
- The 40th anniversary Topps set is one of its best. Just a great design, graphics, interesting photos and the player position featured. Can't ask for anything more.
- Finished with 2,586 hits, and if not for his stints in '95, '98 and '00 abroad, he might have made a run at 3,000.
- With Cleveland in '83, Franco finished second in Rookie of the Year voting to the White Sox's Ron Kittle.
- Took full advantage of his trade to hitter friendly Texas in December '88. He was an All-Star three times and amassed a 17.6 WAR from '89-'91.
- In addition to his league-leading average in '91, Franco had a .408 on-base percentage and a .474 slugging average for an .882 OPS. 10-4 and A-OK.
- After setting a career-high in homers in '94 with 20 and with the players on strike beginning in August, Franco signed to play in Japan for the '95 season.
- Returned to the majors with the Indians the next season and hit .322 with 14 HRs and 76 RBI. He was released in August '97.
- In '98, it was back to Japan before playing a season in Mexico in '99. He returned to the majors that same year, signing with Tampa Bay. He got one at-bat, striking out.
- If you thought Franco was done in the majors about then, you'd be wrong but he went first to South Korea in '00, then Mexico again the next season. He returned to the majors with Atlanta and played in 25 games in '01.
- He kind of found a home in Atlanta, where he played the next four seasons. He spent the next two with the Mets before ending his major-league career back in Atlanta.
- With still something left in the tank, he returned to Mexico in '08 but called it a long career after that.
- Supplanted Cap Anson as the oldest regularly playing position player in major-league history.
- He was the last active player born in the '50s.
- Some other oldie but goodie records: oldest to hit a grand slam (46 years, 308 days), pinch home run (47 years, 240 days) and two homers in a game (46 years, 299 days).
- I'm volunteering to ghost write his autobiography. Anybody who's played that long and in so many places must have a zillion fascinating stories.