May 18, 2014; Arlington, TX, USA; Former Texas Rangers player Julio Franco throws out the ceremonial first pitch before the game against the Toronto Blue Jays at Globe Life Park in Arlington. Texas won 6-2. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
At 56 years old, former Chicago White Sox Julio Franco has recently signed to be a player-manager in Japan according to reports.
CBS Sports wrote the following about the former five-time Silver Slugger award winner (and three-time All-Star) who will be with the Ishikawa Million Stars, which is a member of the six-team Baseball Challenge League in Japan:
"“The Million Stars have since announced the signing of Franco as a player-manager, according to Yakyu Baka … When he last played in MLB, Franco became the oldest player in history to hit a grand slam (age 47), hit a home run (age 48), and appear in a game as a non-pitcher (48).”"
The Baseball Challenge League is a semi-pro league. Baseball-reference has a description the league:
"“The Baseball Challenge League is an independent professional baseball league in the north central region of Japan. The League consists of 6 teams. The League was founded in 2006 and began playing in the 2007 season.”"
Franco was in the majors from 1982-2007, including 1994 season with the White Sox. Franco played in 112 games. During his career he played shortstop, second base and first base.
In ’94, Franco batted .319 with a .406 on-base percentage and a .510 slugging percentage. He hit 20 home runs during his lone season with the White Sox and collected 98 RBIs, in what amounted to 433 at-bats.
Also while with the White Sox, Franco had 138 hits (19 doubles, two triples) and even then at 35 years old he had eight stolen bases. That season led him to finishing eighth that season in the AL MVP voting, his best finish in the MVP race.
In 2006, when Franco became the oldest player in MLB history to hit a home run, it came against the San Diego Padres, as stated in this ESPN.com article:
"“Franco 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.”"
In 23 MLB seasons, Franco had 2,586 hits and 173 home runs.