John Iacono
January 06, 2017

One of the most fascinating players of recent vintage is Franco, who played an astounding 32 seasons of professional baseball from 1978 to 2008 with a brief cameo in The Baseball Challenge League in 2015. In a career that included detours to Japan, Korea and Mexico, Franco is credited by baseball-reference.com with having picked up 3,870 hits, including 2,586 at the major league level.

Signed by the Phillies out of the Dominican Republic in 1978, Franco made his major league debut in 1982, but that winter he was shipped to Cleveland as one of five players in exchange for outfielder Von Hayes. He topped a .300 batting average three times for the Indians, made three All-Star teams for the Rangers and thereafter trotted the globe. From 1998-2000, he made just one major league plate appearance, but in 2001, the 42-year-old wonder began a five-year run as a useful part-time player for the Braves, hitting a combined .292/.365/.428 in 486 games. He still wasn't done, spending 2006 and part of '07 with the Mets. In May 4 of that latter season he hit the last of his 173 major league homers, off the Diamondbacks' Randy Johnson, making him—at 48 years and 254 days old—the oldest player to go yard in the bigs. He's also the he oldest player ever to hit a grand slam, a pinch-hit home run (both of those at 46 years and 308 days) and two home runs in one game (46 years and 299 days).

At last report, he was a 57-year-old player-manager for a Japanese independent league team, the Ishikawa Million Stars, in 2015. He got just 1.1% of the BBWAA vote in 2013, but even if he's not Hall-worthy, he at least belongs in Ripley's Believe It or Not! Museum.

You May Like