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Me and Julio

Posted by Chad Finn, Globe Staff  May 4, 2008 12:56 PM

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Just a quick tip of the cap to one of our longtime favorites, Julio Franco, who retired at age 49 yesterday, ending a 31-year-career in professional baseball. Yep, that's correct - Franco was paid to play baseball for 31 years, 23 of which were spent in the big leagues. We give you a few moments of note from a truly distinctive - and quirky - career:

He signed with the Phillies in 1978 and made his major league debut four seasons later in Philly, where his teammates included Mike Schmidt, Steve Carlton, Pete Rose, Tug McGraw, and of course, Porfirio Altamirano . . . was swapped to Cleveland in the infamous five-for-one Von Hayes deal in December '82 . . . was an established star with the Indians in '84 during the inaugural season of my beloved Maine Guides, the Tribe's Triple A team which has been defunct for 20 years . . . played with fellow 29-year-old Terry Francona and 25-year-old John Farrell on the '88 Indians . . . earned the All-Star Game MVP award in '90, getting the winning hit off "Best Damn Sports Show" drooler Rob Dibble . . . won a batting title with the Rangers in '91 . . . went to Japan after the '94 strike, and later batted .423 and .437 in two years in the Mexican League . . . in 1997, was already one of the 10 oldest players in the league according to baseballreference.com . . . compiled over 4,200 hits in the US majors and minors, Japan, Korea, the Dominican, and Mexico . . . hit .309 with a 111 OPS+ for the Braves at age 45 . . . on one legendary road trip to L.A., hooked up with all four of the Golden Girls, including Rue McClanahan twice . . . became the oldest player to homer in the majors when he took a young whippersnapper named Randy Johnson deep a year ago today . . . was the last active player to face a pitcher who also faced Ted Williams (Jim Kaat) . . . said his goal was to collect a paycheck and a pension check from a team in the same year, which would have happened had he stuck around until age 50 . . . retires with a .298 average, 2,586 hits, and 173 homers in the majors . . . according to Wikipedia, which is never wrong, many of his early bios have his birthdate listed as 1954, which would make him 54 - but very likely still a couple of years younger than Miguel Tejada.

About Touching All The Bases

Irreverence and insight from Chad Finn, a Globe/Boston.com sports writer and media columnist. A winner of several national and regional writing awards, he is the founder and sole contributor to the TATB blog, which launched in December 2004. Yes, he realizes how lucky he is.

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