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Tho' much is taken, much abides; and tho'
We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are;
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.

Yesterday was Julio Franco's birthday, and I missed it.

Happily, Tim Kurkjian of ESPN took note of the occasion in Franco defying the aging process, in which we learned that Julio likes to take BP with a weighted donut on his bat, eats way more meals than a regular person, and takes a lot of naps. Well, don't we all, when we're pushing 50?

Best fun fact from Kurkjian's story:

Franco made his major-league debut in 1982... with the Phillies. Other members of that team included Stan Bahnsen, Del Unser, Pete Rose, Bill Robinson, Steve Carlton, Ron Reed and Sparky Lyle, all of whom are now in their 60s.

His former teammmates are getting too old for old-timers games?

This season, Julio is batting .299 and slugging .503 - that's the second best slugging percentage of his career. He's now got 2513 hits, although the last time he had 400 at bats in a season was 1997, and he had no major league hits in 1998, 1999, and 2000.

He might be getting better. Coming into this season, his batting averages over the last three years were .284, .299, and .309. He already has 9 HR this season, which is the most he's hit in any season since 1996.

His ESPN page says he was born in San Pedro de Macoris on August 23, 1958. Which makes him exactly one year younger than Mike Boddicker, a RH pitcher some of you old folks might remember. Now we all know about San Pedro - it's not really as big as Brazil, even if it's the birthplace of George Bell, Rico Carty, Luis Castillo, Mariano Duncan, Tony Fernandez, Pedro Guerrero, Manuel Lee, Jose Offerman, Rafael Ramirez, Juan Samuel, Alfonso Soriano, Sammy Sosa, Joaquin Andujar, Daniel Cabrera, and Guillermo Mota.

However, the Julio Franco page over at says that he was born on August 23, 1958 in Hato Mayor in the Dominican. This puzzled me, as you can well imagine. I went to the CIA's always helpful page on the Dominican Republic, where I learned that the population was almost 9 million, but I discovered nothing about San Pedro de Macoris and Hato Mayor. Further research, however, uncovered a zoomable map over at, from which we can see that Hato Mayor is about 30 miles straight up the road from San Pedro de Macoris. Where Julio was actually born remains a mystery.

Anyway, a belated happy birthday, and many happy returns. What's not to like? He wants to play until he's 50, and why not? He's not just hanging around. He's helping his team win the division. And, folks, I want a litttle credit here. I said, way back in my Atlanta Braves preview, that Franco was still "definitely a better hitter than... well, Shea Hillenbrand for starters."

83 187 26 56  9  1  9  40 19 41  4  0 .299 .359 .503 .862
The day's games:

Toronto (Bush 2-7, 4.73) at New York (Mussina 12-7, 3.88)
Los Angeles (Colon 16-6, 3.46) at Baltimore (Bedard 6-4, 3.12)
Oakland (Saarloos 8-6, 4.15) at Detroit (Bonderman 14-9, 4.02)
Cleveland (Elarton 7-6, 4.41) at Tampa Bay (McClung 4-7, 6.63)
Seattle (Franklin 6-13, 5.10) at Texas (Dominguez 0-3, 5.11)
Boston (Clement 11-3, 4.38) at Kansas City (Carrasco 5-7, 4.89)
Chicago (Buehrle 13-6, 3.07) at Minnesota (Mays 6-8, 5.00)

Atlanta (Sosa 8-2, 2.63) at Chicago (Prior 9-4, 3.66)
Cincinnati (Ortiz 8-8, 5.44) at Washington (Patterson 7-4, 2.38)
St.Louis (Carpenter 17-4, 2.29) at Pittsburgh (Wells 7-12, 4.46)
Florida (Burnett 12-6, 2.90) at Milwaukee (Ohka 8-7, 3.78)
Houston (Astacio 2-6, 6.21) at San Diego (Park 10-6, 6.07)
New York (Seo 5-1, 1.09) at Arizona (Ortiz 4-7, 6.44)
Colorado (Kim 3-10, 5.43) at Los Angeles (Houlton 4-7, 5.24)
Philadelphia (Lidle 9-10, 4.64) at San Francisco (Hennessey 4-5, 5.09)

This Day In Baseball: 24 August 2005 | 11 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
Mick Doherty - Wednesday, August 24 2005 @ 12:15 PM EDT (#126448) #
But you certainly wouldn't trade Hillenbrand for Franco.
Mike Green - Wednesday, August 24 2005 @ 12:22 PM EDT (#126450) #
Here's my Hall Watch piece on Franco. Maybe this is the year that he makes a post-season splash. Incidentally, according to Baseball Prospectus WARP1 stat, the 3 most valuable Braves this year have been Marcus Giles, Rafael Furcal and Andruw Jones in that order. They are 27, 27 and 28 respectively, and according to the WARP1 measure more valuable than any Blue Jay. Much has been made of the Braves' rookies performances, and indeed they have been valuable. But, it sure helps when you've got a solid up the middle defence with players in their prime.
Nigel - Wednesday, August 24 2005 @ 01:41 PM EDT (#126459) #
There are a lot of crazy things in Franco's stat line from this year but are any crazier than 4 SB's?
Shortstop - Wednesday, August 24 2005 @ 02:02 PM EDT (#126470) #
I'm wondering if his triple was actually a homerun but he stopped when he reached third.

I have never seen him have a bad at bat this year. He still has the ability to foul off the best pitches the pitcher offers.
Craig B - Wednesday, August 24 2005 @ 02:31 PM EDT (#126474) #
Regarding Dominican geography... Hato Mayor and San Pedro de Macoris are not only towns, they are also provinces. And what's more, the provincial boundaries have apparently changed a lot over the years. It may well be that while Franco was born in Hato Mayor, that birthplace might now be in San Pedro de Macoris. Or vice versa.

(Hato Mayor and San Pedro de Macoris are right next to each other in the eastern Dominican)
Magpie - Wednesday, August 24 2005 @ 03:10 PM EDT (#126482) #
If you had a 46 year old first baseman who was hitting .229 after the first two months of the season, wouldn't you start to wonder if maybe the clock had finally run out? Not Bobby Cox. Since June 1, Franco has hit .356. Maybe the cold weather slows him down...

As far as I'm concerned, the opportunity for Julio to finally - finally! - play in a World Series is more than enough reason to root for the Braves this year.

Blue in SK - Wednesday, August 24 2005 @ 03:40 PM EDT (#126485) #
To shift away from the seemingly ageless to the other extreme.

There is a very important game on TV this afternoon - semi final on the international side of the LLWs featuring Canada vs Japan. Currently, the score is 0-0 and the Canuck pitcher just got the third out via a K to go to the bottom of the second.

Go Team Canada!
VBF - Wednesday, August 24 2005 @ 03:56 PM EDT (#126487) #
The influence is the coaching os so great at this level, you'd think they'd teach the kids how to bunt properly. That one kid on the Japanese team was bunting with his knuckles in front of the bat with his wrists upwards. That's a pretty basic thing, too.
mlb86 - Wednesday, August 24 2005 @ 04:18 PM EDT (#126490) #
Franco's season looks even more impressive when you compare to other players whose careers lasted into their mid 40s. Carlton Fisk, Hall of Famer, hit .189 at age 45 for the '93 White Sox. Rickey Henderson hit .208 and stole three bases at 44 for the '03 Dodgers. 45-year-old Pete Rose hit .219 for the '86 Reds.

Franco could get some competition from Phil Niekro, who went 16-8 at 45 and 16-12 at 46. But it's obviously much rarer for a position player's career to last this long than for a knuckleballer.
Craig B - Wednesday, August 24 2005 @ 04:38 PM EDT (#126492) #
The influence is the coaching os so great at this level, you'd think they'd teach the kids how to bunt properly.

Just don't get Coach to do it; he'll have them bunting off a tee.

(Yes, that's an in-joke).

The_Game - Wednesday, August 24 2005 @ 05:14 PM EDT (#126497) #
Wow, Japan flattened Canada.
This Day In Baseball: 24 August 2005 | 11 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.