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Generalissimo Julio Franco is Still Playing
2005-12-12 10:06
by Mike Carminati

The Mets, a team that once had two Bobby Jones on its roster (Bobby M. and Bobby J. in 2000, not the defensive specialist from the Sixers though), apparently makes its roster moves as if playing Monopoly. Now the are locking up 47-year-old Julio Franco a year after losing then 43-year-old John Franco. Next, they will re-sign Matt Franco and will start building hotels on their heads.

Franco is so old that he was part of the Fergie Jenkins deal in Sixties (actually, the five-for-one Von Hayes trade but the facts were changed for comedic effect.) However, it is well established that the man keeps himself in tremendous physical condition, but $2.2 M? And a two-year contract, yet? And I thought the B.J. Ryan signing was ludicrous, though it did give added nuance to the connotation for his chosen nickname.

Apparently, Omar Minaya, the Mets GM, was a former minor-league teammate of Franco's or maybe his mentor, and remember that Franco apprenticed at the knee of Alexander Joy Cartwright—get it? He's old! (These are the jokes, folks.)

Can Franco be effective as he approaches fifty? Well, what he did last season was without precedent, so who knows? I don't think I would pay that much to find out, however.

In 2005, Franco played 108 games and maintained a respectable 105 adjusted OPS. No other 46-year-old ever played more than 63 games, No other 46-year-old position player ever played more than 8 games, and none have played in a single game since 1926. Here are all the 46-year-old major-leaguers:

Julio Franco2005461081B
Jesse Orosco20034663P
Satchel Paige19534657P
Hoyt Wilhelm19694652P
Jack Quinn19304635P
Phil Niekro19854633P
Hod Lisenbee19454631P
Charlie Hough19944621P
Nolan Ryan19934613P
Tommy John19894610P
Sam Thompson1906468OF
Dan Brouthers19044621B
Jimmy Austin19264613B
Deacon McGuire1910461C

As for players over 46, no one has played over 100 games in total, let alone in a single season. The most were by pitchers, with Jack Quinn's 95 games leading the pack. The only position player to play multiple games in the field past age 46 was Arlie Latham, who played 2 games at age 49 at second base (and four in total).

Here are the most career games after age 46:

Player, >46Career GPOS
Jack Quinn95P
Hoyt Wilhelm81P
Phil Niekro60P
Minnie Minoso5DH
Nick Altrock4
Kaiser Wilhelm4P
Arlie Latham42B
Satchel Paige1P
Johnny Evers12B
Jimmy Austin13B
Jim O'Rourke1C
Hughie Jennings11B
Gabby Street1C
Deacon McGuire1C
Charley O'Leary1

Now, here's the breakdown by season. The most games by a player over 46 was 53 by Hoyt Wilhelm in 1970:
Hoyt Wilhelm19704753P
Jack Quinn19324842P
Jack Quinn19314739P
Phil Niekro19864734P
Phil Niekro19874826P
Hoyt Wilhelm19724916P
Jack Quinn19334914P
Hoyt Wilhelm19714812P
Arlie Latham19094942B
Kaiser Wilhelm1921474P
Minnie Minoso1976533DH
Minnie Minoso1980572
Charley O'Leary1934511
Deacon McGuire1912481C
Gabby Street1931481C
Hughie Jennings19184911B
Jim O'Rourke1904531C
Jimmy Austin19294913B
Johnny Evers19294712B
Nick Altrock1924471P
Nick Altrock1929521OF
Nick Altrock1931541
Nick Altrock1933561
Satchel Paige1965581P

Note that there have been just 261 games in total played by men after the age of 46. Franco potentially will double with his new Met contract, if he can 130 games a season in New York. Whatever happens, it can't be a worse deal than the Mo Vaughn signing.

2005-12-12 20:13:41
1.   Edgy DC
Fun stuff, Mike.

Nonetheless, the Mets never signed Mo Vaughn, but rather traded for him.

2005-12-13 11:39:35
2.   Mike Carminati
Ah, true, I should have said "acquisition", but then again, technically I didn't explicitly say that the Mets signed Vaughn. I implied it or, as Walter "Gib" Gibson would say, inferred it.

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