Franco Sets Geriatric Slam Record
Julio Franco has a goal of playing major league baseball until he’s 50, and the Philadelphia Phillies are among those who probably wouldn’t bet against him reaching it.
The oldest active player in the majors at 45, Franco became the oldest in history to hit a grand slam when he slashed an opposite-field homer in the first inning to propel the Braves to an 8-4 victory against the Phillies on Thursday night at Turner Field.
“He’s a freak of nature,” Braves third baseman Mark DeRosa said.
“He’s a professional hitter,” Phillies manager Larry Bowa said.
“That record will probably stand forever; that’s a good one,” said Braves manager Bobby Cox, who has an idea for when his team plays Minnesota in the Hall of Fame game at Cooperstown, N.Y., on June 14. “We’ll put him in the Hall of Fame when we go there.”
Having already broken the record twice this season for oldest player to hit a pinch-hit homer, Franco added another midlife power mark when he surpassed Carlton Fisk by two years in the grand-slam category.
“Records don’t mean anything to me,” said Franco, who also moved past Edd Roush into 99th on the all-time hits list. “I don’t care about age. In America, age is a stereotype. There’s a lot of people 20 years old who can’t play this game. Whether you’re 20 or 40, it doesn’t matter as long as you can play.”
And he can. Ironically, Franco had been out of the Major Leagues for three seasons and playing in the Mexican Leagues when the Braves signed him in a desperation move late in the 2001 season. He’s been platooning at first base ever since.