Friday, August 25, 2006

Julio Franco: Almost 50 & A World Series Virgin

Julio Franco debuted in big league baseball in 1982. He was the All-Star Game MVP -- in 1990. Going into this season, he had accumulated over 2,500 hits, with a career BA of .299. He is currently a first baseman with the New York Mets, and as of the other day, was hitting a very respectable .270 in 115 AB.

He is 48 years old, reaching that birth milestone Wednesday.

Yet, despite nearing 50 years of age, there's one thing Julio Franco hasn't experienced in his baseball career.

He has not set foot on the field during a World Series game.

That could change this season, as his Mets are running away with the NL East. But Franco's been to the playoffs before, with little luck. He did make it to the NLCS in 2001, with the Braves.

Whenever you need a poster child for a player whose career was lengthy but unsuccessful from a team standpoint, you trot out Ernie Banks. Mr. Cub played 19 seasons in Chicago, and managed to keep a smile on his face and a cheery disposition, despite playing on some of the worst teams in baseball. In 1969, the Cubs flirted with winning the NL East before collapsing in September.

But Ernie Banks was a youthful 40 when he retired in 1971. Franco is almost ten years past that, and he says he wants to play past age 50.

The thought of a 48 year-old player making his World Series debut does something for me. It ought to be one of the best stories of the postseason, and with Franco playing in New York, that has a good chance of happening.

Franco: he debuted BEFORE the last Tigers' World Series win

If the Tigers make the World Series, and they face the Mets, you could see 41 year-old Kenny Rogers facing Franco at the plate. I don't know how to find this out, but I'm sure some sabermatrician could tell us: the combined age of Rogers and Franco would be 89 years old. Has such a combination of ages ever clashed in the World Series? Somehow I doubt it.

I'd root 100% for the Mets and Franco except for one thing: I'm a huge Dodgers fan. I think it stems from buying their yearbooks at Tiger Stadium in the 1970's. You could buy yearbooks from a few teams other than the Tigers back then, and the Dodgers were always one of them. So I started buying Dodgers yearbooks in the mid-70's, and have been a fan ever since.

But I might waive that allegiance in order to see Julio Franco play in his first World Series game at age 48.


Ozz said...

I think the closest thing, age-wise, that a World Series has seen, probably would've happened in the WWII years. Maybe someone out there could look that up.

Ozz said...

Um, that should've said "closest thing, age wise, to a Rogers-Franco matchup, that a World Series..."