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Hickok SportsThoughts

Sports historian and author Ralph Hickok of www.hickoksports.com sometimes meanders on about current happenings in sports and sometimes looks back in languor.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Franco Is the Answer to a Lot of Questions

If the trivia question begins, "Oldest major-league player to," the answer is probably Julio Franco. (Provided it's not a question about pitching, that is.)
Franco turned 47 Tuesday. When he broke into the major leagues with the Phillies in 1982, among his teammates were Steve Carlton, Pete Rose, and Gary Matthews. Carlton has been in the Hall of Fame for 11 years and Rose has been wishing he were there for even longer. Gary Matthews Jr. is in his seventh season as a major-leaguer.
Franco has been traded twice. The eight other players involved in those trades have been out of baseball for 10 years or more.
So far this season, he's appeared in 85 games for the Atlanta Braves and he's hitting .292. That's 23 points better than Gary Matthews Jr.
He's the oldest starting position player in MLB history. He's the oldest player to get more than 50 hits in a season, the oldest to hit a grand slam home run, the oldest to hit a homer as a pinch-hitter, the oldest to hit more than home run in a game, and the oldest to have two stolen bases in a game.
If he hits another home run this season, he will become the oldest player to have 10 home runs in a season, as well as the oldest major-league player ever to hit one at all. The record is currently held by Jack Quinn, a pitcher who hit a home run four days before his 47th birthday.
Franco says he wants to play until he's 50. If he does, he'll have a shot at breaking another of Quinn's records: oldest player to appear in a World Series game. Of course, he'll need a little help from his teammates to break that one.