Sports Outside the Beltway

Julio Franco Oldest Man to Homer in Major Leagues

Julio Franco continues to be the most impressive man in baseball, hitting home runs a decade after most players retire.

The New York Mets must have known what they were doing when they signed Julio Franco to a two-year contract. Franco, 47, became the oldest player in major league history to hit a home run when he connected for a two-run, pinch-hit shot in the eighth inning Thursday night to help the New York Mets rally for a 7-2 win over the San Diego Padres.

And he wants more. “That won’t be the last home run I hit, and I hope I hit one when I’m 50,” said Franco, who has four career pinch-hit homers.

He wasn’t joking.

“Why not? They signed me here for two years,” said Franco, who turns 48 on Aug. 23. “God gave me the great gift to play the game of baseball, and I want to play until I’m 50. If He gives me two more years, don’t you think He’s going to give me another one?”

If Franco lasts that long, he’ll turn 50 during the 2008 season.

I hope he makes it. He resurrected his career when the Braves found him languishing in the Mexican League a few years back. He’s been platooning at first base ever since but the Mets made him an offer the Braves couldn’t match this offseason.

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