Keeping the Dream Alive and Well at 57
Call it the fountain of baseball youth, failure to let go, or even the ageless wonder. At age 57 Julio Franco is defying the odds proving to the world that not even father time can stop him from playing the game he loves. While he hasn't stepped foot on a single major league field since 2007 Franco has found the means to keep the dream alive. He now resides in Japan as a coach for the Ishikawa Million Stars, a Japanese independent league team.
Seeing Julio again seems to drum up feelings of nostalgia even in the most casual of baseball fans. It's hard to forget that awkward looking stance that caught the eyes of baseball fans all the way back in 1982. For 25 years MLB fans have enjoyed the crazy stance that spun across the baseball landscape. Debuting with the Phillies in 1982, Franco has collected quite the colorful jersey collection encompassing seven different major league teams since his entry into the MLB.
Julio never quite established himself for one team for too long although he did spend eight years in Cleveland, six in Atlanta, and five in Texas where he had his better statistical seasons. He collected over 2,500 major league hits which translated into a lifetime .298 batting average, five silver slugger awards, three all-star games, and the record for the oldest player (45) to post an OPS (.818) above the league average.
As an Atlanta Braves/NL East fan I was happy to see the second most awkward batting stance (behind Craig Counsel) help vault the Bravos into first place for six years. It was very cool to be able to see the leagues oldest player go duke it out with talented young stars, and to see how physical and mental determination lead to a long and productive career.
It has certainly been a storied career for Julio. From playing Japan to playing in the pros, and countless teams in between its safe to say that Julio has seen and done it all in baseball. Julio's passion showed up each and every game proving that age is only a number and love for the game has no age limit.