If you tell a Mets fan, “name the oldest player in franchise history,” they will likely respond “Julio Franco” with no hesitation. He was the resident “old geezer” on the roster for the Mets in 2006 and 2007, at the tail end of a 23-year MLB career that began in 1982 with the Philadelphia Phillies.
Aside from being years older than most of his Mets teammates, Franco was also known for his unusual batting stance. He stood in the box with the bat high above his head and the top of the bat pointed directly at the pitcher. From there, when the pitch was delivered, his bat swung down low through the strike zone and, very often, made solid contact.
Franco’s long career led to an impressive resume when he finally hung up his big league cleats in 2007. He finished his MLB tenure with over 2500 hits, a career .298 batting average, over 1100 RBI, and five Silver Slugger awards. Franco only garnered 1.1% of the vote on the 2013 BBWAA Hall of Fame ballot and fell off after one year, but he was no doubt one of the steadiest and most reliable hitters in baseball for over two decades.
He also became the oldest MLB hitter to ever hit a home run when he slammed one out of the park against the San Diego Padres on April 20, 2006.
As of 2020, Franco can still be occasionally spotted taking batting practice or swinging in a cage somewhere. He made waves on Twitter back in July of 2020 for a video that showed him taking swings in a cage while looking sharp in a street-ready getup of jeans, dress shoes, and a plaid shirt.
Former Mets pitcher Collin McHugh, who was managed by Franco in the Mets’ Gulf Coast League, had this to say about the ageless hitter:
Franco only spent parts of two seasons with the Mets, but he will always be loved by the Flushing Faithful for his solid bench play and memorable batting stance.