Julio César Franco Robles (born August 23, 1958),[note 1] is a Dominican former professional baseball player and coach, who is a hitting coach for the farm team of the Lotte Giants of the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO). He spent most of his playing career in Major League Baseball (MLB), entering the major leagues in 1982 and last appearing in 2007 (at which time, he was the oldest active big league player). During that stretch, Franco also spent two seasons playing in Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) and one season playing in the KBO.
While Franco was an All-Star and posted above-average hitting statistics throughout his career, he is best known for being the oldest regular position player in MLB history. Franco was the all-time hits leader among Dominican-born players until surpassed in 2011 by Vladimir Guerrero. He made his MLB debut as a shortstop for the Philadelphia Phillies. During his long career, Franco saw significant time as a shortstop, second baseman, first baseman, and designated hitter.
Franco with the New York Mets
|Infielder / Designated hitter|
|Born: August 23, 1958|
Hato Mayor, Dominican Republic
|April 23, 1982, for the Philadelphia Phillies|
|Last MLB appearance|
|September 17, 2007, for the Atlanta Braves|
|Runs batted in||1,194|
|Career highlights and awards|
Franco was born in Hato Mayor in the Dominican Republic. As a child, he lived in Consuelo, San Pedro de Macorís, a poor municipality 50 miles east of Santo Domingo. He attended Divine Providence School in Consuelo.
Signed by the Philadelphia Phillies organization on April 23, 1978, as an amateur free agent, Franco reported to the Rookie-level Butte Copper Kings. In each of five minor league seasons, he hit for a batting average of at least .300. Franco was promoted through the Philadelphia minor league system each year, reaching the Class AAA Oklahoma City 89ers in 1982 and batting .300 and hitting 21 home runs in 120 games.
Franco debuted in the major leagues in 1982, playing 16 games for the Phillies. That December, Franco was part of a five-for-one trade between the Phillies and the Cleveland Indians. The Phillies received highly regarded prospect Von Hayes in exchange for Manny Trillo, George Vukovich, Jay Baller, Jerry Willard, and Franco.
In June 1986, Franco received a two-game suspension from the Indians after he arrived at the ballpark but then left before the game started. Indians manager Pat Corrales said that Franco left due to a personal problem, but he said that Franco had left without permission and that he had already been given a warning after missing a game in 1985.
Franco hit over .300 in every season from 1986 to 1989. He also averaged over 20 stolen bases per season from 1983 through 1991. When he switched from shortstop to second base in 1988, he won four straight Silver Slugger Awards. Franco batted with a long whip-like swing with the heaviest bat allowed. Because of his batting style, Franco twice led the American League in grounding into double plays and was in the top-ten in that category seven times in the 1980s. He is seventh on the all-time list in ground-ball double plays and has just over 300.
In December 1988, during baseball's Winter Meetings, Franco was traded from Cleveland to the Texas Rangers, who were in need of an everyday second baseman. The Rangers gave up first baseman Pete O'Brien, and two prospects, Oddibe McDowell and Jerry Browne. The Rangers had acquired first baseman Rafael Palmeiro the day before, and The New York Times said that the Rangers' lineup might allow Franco to bat fifth, a batting order slot that could increase his number of runs batted in (RBI).
With Texas, Franco was named to all three of his All-Star teams: in 1989, 1990 and 1991, and he won the Major League Baseball All-Star Game MVP Award in 1990. In the 1990 All-Star game, Franco came to bat in the 7th inning against Rob Dibble of the Cincinnati Reds. Franco drove a 101 mph fastball to the right-center field fence for a double, scoring the only runs of the game.
In 1991, Franco had his only 200-hit season and won the American League batting title. His .341 average was nine points higher than that of future Baseball Hall of Fame member Wade Boggs. A 1992 knee injury limited him to 35 games and ended Franco's time as a middle infielder. Franco later said that the injury helped him to realize the importance of taking care of his physical condition. He spent 1993 as a designated hitter before opting to become a free agent and signing with the Chicago White Sox.
In 1994, Franco had already hit 20 home runs for the only time in his career and was on pace to reach 100 runs batted in for the only time in his career when the remainder of the season was canceled by the 1994–95 Major League Baseball strike. On December 28, 1994, Franco signed to play in Japan with the Chiba Lotte Marines in the Pacific League. Chiba Lotte had the best season in its history in 1995, and Franco won the Japanese equivalent of the Gold Glove Award as a first baseman.
After the 1995 season in Japan, Franco signed with the Cleveland Indians, where he was a fan favorite. In 1996, he batted .322 with 76 RBIs even in an injury-shortened season, and played in his first postseason. Early in the 1997 season, Franco hit a hard line drive back to the pitcher's mound which struck Detroit Tigers pitcher Willie Blair; the pitcher missed four weeks of the season with a broken jaw. In August 1997, the Indians released Franco. He quickly signed with the Milwaukee Brewers.
In 1998, Franco was back in Japan playing for Chiba Lotte. The following year, he returned to North America, in the Mexican League with a .423 average in 93 games (and also a strikeout in his only MLB at bat with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays). In 2000, Franco was back in Asia but, this time, in South Korea to play for the Samsung Lions. He returned again to the Mexican League in 2001.
In September 2001, Franco was a 43-year-old who had just one major league at bat in the previous three seasons. Despite his lengthy absence, the Atlanta Braves, after seeing his success in the Mexican League, purchased his contract from the Angelopolis (Mexico City) Tigers. Franco played well defensively as a first baseman and was a good hitter against left-handed pitchers. The Braves re-signed him after that season and each of the next three.
Franco was talking in the weight room in August 2003 with Jason Marquis, when he leaned on a stand and an 80-pound weight rolled over his finger, breaking it. "When the weight started to roll", Franco said, "I said, 'Uh-oh.'"
In 2004, Franco passed Cap Anson as the oldest regularly playing position player in MLB history. (A few regularly playing pitchers, including knuckleballers Phil Niekro and Hoyt Wilhelm, were older than Franco, and a few non-pitchers, like Minnie Miñoso and Jim O'Rourke, appeared as publicity stunts at old ages but did not play regularly.)
On December 8, 2005, at age 47, Franco signed a two-year contract with the Mets.
Franco had been the oldest player in the major leagues from 2004 to 2007, and was the last active player who was born in the 1950s. On April 20, 2006, pinch-hitting with one out in the eighth inning against the San Diego Padres, Franco hit a go-ahead two-run home run, becoming the oldest player in Major League history to hit a home run. Franco hit a three-run homer on September 30, 2006, in Washington to extend his own record. It was one of three hits in the game for Franco, who fell a triple short of hitting for the cycle. Franco yet again bested himself on May 4, 2007 when he homered into the swimming pool at Chase Field against Arizona Diamondbacks lefty Randy Johnson – a game in which he also stole a base.
Franco was also the oldest player ever to hit a grand slam, a pinch-hit home run, two home runs in one game, and to steal two bases in a game. On April 26, 2006, Franco became the second-oldest man in MLB history to steal a base, behind only Arlie Latham, who accomplished the feat in a token appearance at age 49 with the New York Giants in 1909. On July 29, 2006, against the Atlanta Braves, Franco became the oldest player ever to pinch run, when he came in for Carlos Delgado after Delgado was hit by pitch. On September 19, 2006, a day after the Mets clinched the division title, Franco started at third base in a game against the Florida Marlins. This was Franco's first start at the position since his rookie year, marking 24 years between starts at the position.
Franco struggled with the Mets in 2007, achieving just a .200 batting average (in only 50 at-bats in half a season). Franco grew unhappy with insufficient playing time before being designated for assignment on July 12. He subsequently re-signed with the Atlanta Braves on July 18 and was placed on the team's active roster. In his first game since re-signing with the Braves, he went 1-for-3 with 2 RBIs and received 2 standing ovations in a Braves 10–1 rout of the Cardinals. On August 1, just 13 days after the Braves signed him, the Braves designated Franco for assignment after the team acquired Mark Teixeira from the Texas Rangers. He accepted a minor league assignment on August 8 and was called back up as promised on September 1.
On May 2, 2008, Franco officially announced his retirement from baseball to his Mexican League team, the Quintana Roo Tigers. An official announcement was released the next day. Franco said that retiring was the hardest decision he had ever made, but he pointed to his decreasing production as a player and said that he felt like it was time to retire.
Franco was hired in March 2009 as the manager of the rookie-level Gulf Coast League Mets. In Franco's only season managing the team, they posted a record of 22 wins and 34 losses. In 2010–2011, Franco managed a winter league team, the Caribes de Anzoátegui, in the Venezuelan Professional Baseball League. He led the team to its first league championship in 20 years. He returned to the team the following season, but he was fired after the team started with a 28-28 win-loss record. Soon thereafter, Franco was hired as the manager of the Pericos de Puebla for the 2012 Mexican League season. In two seasons with Puebla, he led the team to 110 wins and 104 losses.
Franco appeared on the Baseball Hall of Fame ballot in 2013. Paul White of USA Today wrote that while Franco was a consistent player over a long career, he was rarely dominant. White wrote that Franco's statistics were inferior to other Baseball Hall of Fame second basemen. Franco received six Hall of Fame votes (1.1% of the total ballots), an insufficient total to appear on the next year's ballot.
On February 8, 2015, Ishikawa Million Stars of the professional Japanese Independent baseball league Baseball Challenge League announced that Franco had been signed as a player-manager for the 2015 season. Franco said that he did not think he would appear often as a player, but 14 games into the season, Franco had played in ten games owing to an injury to a key player.
The Texas Rangers 1989 season involved the Rangers finishing fourth in the American League West with a record of 83 wins and 79 losses.1990 Major League Baseball All-Star Game
The 1990 Major League Baseball All-Star Game was the 61st playing of the midsummer classic between the all-stars of the American League (AL) and National League (NL), the two leagues comprising Major League Baseball. The game was held on July 10, 1990, at Wrigley Field in Chicago, the home of the Chicago Cubs of the National League. The game resulted in the American League defeating the National League 2-0. The game is remembered for a rain delay in the 7th inning that resulted in CBS airing Rescue 911 during the delay. This is also the first game – and so far the only one – to feature two players bearing the same name: Greg Olson. One was a pitcher, represented the AL squad and Baltimore Orioles and featured three G's in the first name and the other was a catcher, represented the NL squad and Atlanta Braves and featured only two G's in the first name. Outfielder Jose Canseco of the Oakland Athletics and First Baseman Will Clark of the San Francisco Giants were the leaders of their leagues in the fan votes. They both batted third in the line up for their squads.
The pregame ceremonies celebrated the 85th anniversary of the Great Lakes Naval Training Station which, as with previous All-Star Games held in Chicago, provided the colors presentation. After Wayne Messmer sang O Canada, recording artist (and native Chicagoan) Richard Marx sang The Star-Spangled Banner. The last All-Star Game previously held at Wrigley Field was represented by Ernie Banks who threw out the ceremonial first pitch.1990 Texas Rangers season
The Texas Rangers 1990 season involved the Rangers finishing 3rd in the American League west with a record of 83 wins and 79 losses.1991 Texas Rangers season
The 1991 Texas Rangers season involved the Rangers finishing third in the American League West with a record of 85 wins and 77 losses.1994 Chicago White Sox season
The 1994 Chicago White Sox season was the White Sox's 94th season in the major leagues, and their 95th season overall. They led the American League Central, 1 game ahead of the 2nd place Cleveland Indians with a record of 67-46, when the season was cut short by the 1994–95 Major League Baseball strike.1997 Milwaukee Brewers season
The 1997 Milwaukee Brewers season involved the Brewers finishing third in the American League Central, eight games behind the Cleveland Indians, with a record of 78 wins and 83 losses. 1997 was the Brewers' final season in the American League, before moving to the National League for the following season.1999 Tampa Bay Devil Rays season
The 1999 Tampa Bay Devil Rays season was their second since the franchise was created. They finished last in the AL East division with a record of 69 wins and 93 losses. Their manager was Larry Rothschild, who entered his 2nd year with the club.2001 Atlanta Braves season
The 2001 Atlanta Braves season marked the franchise's 36th season in Atlanta and 131st overall. The Braves won their tenth consecutive division title. The season saw the team finish first in the NL East Division with an 88-74 record – the worst among playoff teams in 2001, and also the worst record for the Braves since 1990 (meaning the worst record through their run of 14 consecutive division titles starting in 1991. Not counting the strike-shortened 1994 season). Atlanta finished the season with just a 2 game division lead over the Philadelphia Phillies.
The Braves swept the favored Houston Astros in the NLDS before losing to the eventual World Series champion Arizona Diamondbacks in the NLCS 4-1, in which Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling notably dominated Atlanta's offense.2002 Atlanta Braves season
The 2002 Atlanta Braves season marked the franchise's 37th season in Atlanta and 132nd overall. The Braves won their 11th consecutive division title, finishing 19 games ahead of the second-place Montreal Expos. The Braves lost the 2002 Divisional Series to the eventual NL Champion San Francisco Giants, 3 games to 2.
2002 marked the final year that pitchers Tom Glavine, Greg Maddux and John Smoltz played on the same team ending the reign of what has been considered by many the greatest pitching trio of all-time. All three would be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame a decade later. Smoltz set the Braves' single season record for saves (55). Chipper Jones moved to the outfield in left field to allow for Vinny Castilla to be signed and added to the lineup at third base. Julio Franco became a regular player in the second stint of his Major League career and Gary Sheffield was acquired to the Braves in 2002, playing at right field.2004 Atlanta Braves season
The 2004 Atlanta Braves season marked the franchise's 39th season in Atlanta and 134th overall. The Braves won their 13th consecutive division title under Manager of the Year Bobby Cox, finishing 10 games ahead of the second-place Philadelphia Phillies. The Braves lost the 2004 Divisional Series to the Houston Astros, 3 games to 2.
J. D. Drew replaced Gary Sheffield (lost to the Yankees in free agency) in the outfield, free agent John Thomson joined the rotation, and rookies Adam LaRoche and Charles Thomas saw significant playing time on a younger 2004 Braves team.2006 New York Mets season
The New York Mets' 2006 season was the 45th regular season for the Mets. They went 97-65 and won the NL East, a feat the team would not repeat until 2015. They were managed by Willie Randolph. They played home games at Shea Stadium. They used the marketing slogan of "The Team. The Time. The Mets." throughout the season.George Vukovich
George Stephen Vukovich (June 24, 1956) is a former right fielder in Major League Baseball who played for the Philadelphia Phillies and Cleveland Indians in all or part of six seasons from 1980–1985. Listed at 6' 0" (1.83 m), 198 lb. (90 k), Vukovich batted left handed and threw right handed. He was born in Chicago.
Vukovich attended college at Southern Illinois University, where he was a member of Phi Sigma Kappa fraternity. The Phillies selected him in the fourth round of the 1977 MLB draft out of SIU.
Vukovich made his major league debut with the Phillies in 1980, appearing as a pinch hitter in a game against the Montreal Expos. He received a World Series ring in his rookie season, even though he did not play in the Series.
In 1981, Vukovich hit a game-winning home run against the Montreal Expos in Game 4 of the National League Division Series. It remains the only walk-off home run in Phillies playoff history.
In December 1982, Vukovich was sent along with Jay Baller, Julio Franco, Manny Trillo and Jerry Willard to the Indians in the same transaction that brought Von Hayes to Philadelphia. Afterwards, he played two seasons in Japan for the Seibu Lions from 1986 to 1987.
In between, Vukovich played winter ball with the Águilas del Zulia of the Venezuelan League during three seasons spanning 1979–1982. He later made a brief appearance for the Daytona Beach Explorers of the Senior Professional Baseball Association in 1991.Ishikawa Million Stars
The Ishikawa Million Stars (石川ミリオンスターズ, Ishikawa Mirion Sutāzu) are a semi-professional baseball team in the Baseball Challenge League of Japan. The team was established in 2007. Their home is Ishikawa Prefecture. Former Major League Baseball star Julio Franco was the team's player-manager. The team is also notable for having female knuckleball pitcher Eri Yoshida on their roster.Julio Franco (disambiguation)
Julio Franco is a former Major League Baseball player from the Dominican Republic
Julio Franco may also refer to:
Julio César Franco, Paraguayan politician
Julio Franco Arango, Colombian Roman Catholic bishopJulio Franco Arango
Julio Franco Arango (3 March 1914 − 16 September 1980) was a Colombian Roman Catholic bishop.
Ordained to the priesthood in 1938, Arango was named bishop in June 1964. In August 1964, he was appointed bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Duitama–Sogamoso, Colombia and died in 1980 while still in office.List of Silver Slugger Award winners at second base
The Silver Slugger Award is awarded annually to the best offensive player at each position in both the American League (AL) and the National League (NL), as determined by the coaches and managers of Major League Baseball (MLB). These voters consider several offensive categories in selecting the winners, including batting average, slugging percentage, and on-base percentage, in addition to "coaches' and managers' general impressions of a player's overall offensive value". Managers and coaches are not permitted to vote for players on their own team. The Silver Slugger was first awarded in 1980 and is given by Hillerich & Bradsby, the manufacturer of Louisville Slugger bats. The award is a bat-shaped trophy, 3 feet (91 cm) tall, engraved with the names of each of the winners from the league and plated with sterling silver.Among second basemen, Ryne Sandberg, who played 15 seasons with the Chicago Cubs in his 16-year career, owns the most Silver Sluggers with seven wins, including five consecutive from 1988 to 1992. Three other National League players have won the award four times. Jeff Kent (2000–2002, 2005) won three consecutive awards with the San Francisco Giants, before adding a fourth with the Los Angeles Dodgers; Craig Biggio, who played his entire career with the Houston Astros, won the award four times as a second baseman (1994–1995, 1997–1998) after winning another as a catcher. Chase Utley followed Kent's last win by capturing four consecutive awards (2006–2009).In the American League, José Altuve and Robinson Canó have won five Silver Slugger awards. Altuve won five consecutive awards (2014–2018), all with the Astros, while Cano won all five of his Silver Slugger awards as a member of the New York Yankees, including four consecutive wins (2006, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013). Altuve and Cano's five Silver Slugger awards are second-most all-time for a second baseman and first among American League winners, ahead of four second basemen who are all four-time winners in the American League. Roberto Alomar won the award at the same position with three different teams (Baltimore Orioles, Toronto Blue Jays, Cleveland Indians). Julio Franco won four consecutive awards (1988–1991) with two different teams, and Lou Whitaker won four awards in five years (1983–1985, 1987) with the Detroit Tigers.Altuve holds the record for the highest batting average in a second baseman's Silver Slugger-winning season with the .346 mark he set in 2017. In the National League, Daniel Murphy's .347 batting average in 2016 ranks first. Willie Randolph, who won the inaugural award in the 1980 season, set a record for on-base percentage (.427) that has not yet been broken. Chuck Knoblauch is second behind Randolph in the American League with a .424 on-base percentage, a mark that was tied by Jeff Kent in 2000 to set the National League record. That year, Kent also set the record among second basemen for highest slugging percentage (.596) and the National League record for runs batted in (125). Bret Boone is the overall leader in runs batted in (141) and holds the American League record for slugging percentage (.578); both of these records were established in 2001. Sandberg hit 40 home runs in 1990, the most ever by a second baseman in a winning season, while Alfonso Soriano set the American League mark with 39 in 2002.Silver Slugger Award
The Silver Slugger Award is awarded annually to the best offensive player at each position in both the American League and the National League, as determined by the coaches and managers of Major League Baseball. These voters consider several offensive categories in selecting the winners, including batting average, slugging percentage, and on-base percentage, in addition to "coaches' and managers' general impressions of a player's overall offensive value". Managers and coaches are not permitted to vote for players on their own team. The Silver Slugger was first awarded in 1980 and is given by Hillerich & Bradsby, the manufacturer of Louisville Slugger bats. The award is a bat-shaped trophy, 3 feet (91 cm) tall, engraved with the names of each of the winners from the league and plated with sterling silver.The prize is presented to outfielders irrespective of their specific position. This means that it is possible for three left fielders, or any other combination of outfielders, to win the award in the same year, rather than one left fielder, one center fielder, and one right fielder. In addition, only National League pitchers receive a Silver Slugger Award; lineups in the American League include a designated hitter in place of the pitcher in the batting order, so the designated hitter receives the award instead.Home run record-holder Barry Bonds won twelve Silver Slugger Awards in his career as an outfielder, the most of any player. He also won the award in five consecutive seasons twice in his career: from 1990 to 1994, and again from 2000 to 2004. Retired former New York Mets catcher Mike Piazza and former New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez are tied for second, with ten wins each. Rodriguez' awards are split between two positions; he won seven Silver Sluggers as a shortstop for the Seattle Mariners and Texas Rangers, and three with the Yankees as a third baseman. Wade Boggs leads third basemen with eight Silver Slugger Awards; Barry Larkin leads shortstops with nine. Other leaders include Ryne Sandberg (seven wins as a second baseman) and Mike Hampton (five wins as a pitcher). Todd Helton and Albert Pujols are tied for the most wins among first baseman with four, although Pujols has won two awards at other positions. David Ortiz has won seven awards at designated hitter position, the most at that position.Von Hayes
Von Francis Hayes (born August 31, 1958), is an American former professional baseball player whose Major League Baseball (MLB) career spanned from 1981 to 1992 for the Cleveland Indians, Philadelphia Phillies, and California Angels. Hayes was originally acquired by the Phillies in a "five-for-one" trade with the Indians, in exchange for Manny Trillo, George Vukovich, Jay Baller, Jerry Willard, and Julio Franco.
|Awards and achievements|
| Oldest Player in the