When the Braves reached into the Mexican league to sign a forty-something year old Julio Franco, there was jeering, laugter, and talk of desperation. Franco was a washed up former all-star that was well past his prime, or so it was thought. But the old man helped and stuck around four years. In fact, the only reason he left is because the New York Mets offered Franco a two year deal, one that will take him to his 49th birthday by all estimates. (Birth records in the Dominican Republic are not totally reliable, so the age is usually an estimate for someone like Franco.) Franco could still hit and wasn’t a defensive liability at first. What is noted as much as his play is his outspoken Christian faith and his impressive physique, one that is the envy of teammates much younger than him. What is also noted is the rigid discipline required to maintain it.
Check out this profile of Franco. The writer notes that Franco asked as many questions as he did, such as, “Tell me something, are you a sinner?” In fact, as the writer discovered, Franco’s faith drives his approach to baseball and everything else: “Because, Julio said, everything he does is with the Lord in mind, and the only reason he plays baseball is because the Lord wants him to play baseball, and if the Lord wants him to play baseball as he approaches 50, his body better be some kind of a machine.”
Franco, who turned 48 last week (we think), begins his day with an hour of prayer. He then prepares a breakfast consisting of egg whites from twenty eggs, eaten for the protein. (Franco reportedly only eats organic food). In the afternoon he prepares an unimaginable shake consisting of beets, broccoli, cauliflower, celery, garlic, onions and apple, the latter included for at least a little taste. That’s nasty stuff, but you can’t argue with the results. You gotta respect Julio Franco, even if he plays for the Mets.