Oldie but goodie? Julio Franco, 55, to play for Fort Worth Cats
This shortstop has a career batting average of .298 in the MLB. He totaled 2,586 hits and made three All-Star appearances.
He is also 55 years old.
Julio Franco will join the Fort Worth Cats Baseball Club as player/ coach for the first home stand of the 2014 season, which begins on Tuesday.
The United League has extended the Cats initial home stand through May 28 because of the addition of Franco.
Franco, who made his debut on April 23, 1982, for the Philadelphia Phillies, played for two Japanese league teams, one Mexican league team, another in Korea and eight MLB teams in a career that spanned 26 years.
He played nearby with the Texas Rangers, where he won the American League batting title in 1991, hitting .341.
“I’m very excited about the opportunity to play and coach in Fort Worth and reconnect with my friends, former teammates and Texas Rangers staff members,” he said. “I love Fort Worth, and I’m very excited about the opportunity to work with the younger players and entertain the fans.”
Franco, who is from the Dominican Republic, joins Pete Rose, Ty Cobb, Hank Aaron, Jigger Statz, Stan Musial and Ichiro Suzuki as one of only seven known players with at least 4,000 professional hits in his professional career (major, minor and foreign leagues).
Former All- Star Mike Marshall, the Cats’ manager, played with Franco in his career and said he is honored to have him not only as a coach, but as a player.
“Our players and fans are very lucky to get this opportunity, and I’m sure Julio will make an immediate impact on the players and the community,” Marshall said.
This, however, is not the first time the Cats signed a former Major League All-Star. Last year they signed Jose Canseco to be a player-coach on their first home stand.
Franco will throw out the first pitch at the Rangers game on Sunday before he makes his debut for the Cats.
The Fort Worth Cats open their 2014 season at home on Tuesday, hosting the Rio Grande Valley WhiteWings at LaGrave Field, which holds up to 4,100 people.
By the way, the WhiteWings manager, Chris Patterson, was born October 2, 1985 – three years after Franco made his MLB debut.