Former Phillie Franco back in swing of things

Franco
Franco
Posted: May 23, 2014

MOST fans remember Julio Franco as the former Phillies infielder who was part of the five-for-one deal for Von Hayes.

Franco had only played 16 games for the Phils before being dealt to the Indians in December of 1982 - along with Jay Baller, Manny Trillo, George Vukovich and Jerry Willard.

Sixteen games. That's fewer than the 18 that Phillies third base coach Pete Mackanin played for the Phightins in the late 70s. And no one even remembers he played here.

Franco played for eight teams over a 23-year major league career that included a 5-year stint with the Rangers where he won the American League batting title in 1991. He also played in Japan, South Korea and Mexico before retiring at age 49 in May of 2008.

Now, he's unretired. For a little while at least.

Earlier this week, the 55-year-old Franco joined the Fort Worth (Texas) Cats as they started their season in the independent United League. He is expected to play in the Cats' first nine home games.

Franco went 1-for-3 in the opener with a walk, single and run scored to help lead the Cats to a win over Rio Grande Valley .

"To play again, it's a great accomplishment," Franco told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. "I love the game. I love the smell of the grass; the crack of the bat."

Franco was already the oldest major league player to hit a grand slam, a home run, a pinch-hit home run, multiple home runs in a single game, and to steal two bases in a single game.

Now, he's on the short list of those who have played professionally over five decades.

"I want to stay in baseball and this is a neat opportunity for me to stay close to the game," Franco said in a statement. "If you stay home, people forget about you and you may not get back in. I want to get back in as a coach, hitting coach, bench coach, future manager. This is a great opportunity."

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