The Granddaddy of Grand Slams

I thought it would be appropriate to inaugurate the 2007 baseball season by commemorating the only man to have hit against a pitcher who pitched against hitting legend Ted Williams: Julio Cèsar Robles Franco (the pitcher was Jim Kaat, who played 1959-1983).

Why is he so impressive? It's not your everyday average joe who breaks his own record for being the oldest man to hit a grand slam in the Major Leagues (he set the record in 2005 at 47 years old, breaking the record he set at age 45).

Yes, Julio is the Grand Geezer of baseball, a man aptly nicknamed "Moses" by Mets closer Billy Wagner. From April 23, 1982 (his Major League debut) to the present, Julio has become famous not for his All-Star play and stellar hitting, not to mention that bizarre batting stance where the bat hangs over his head and points back at the pitcher, but for astronomically huge age.

To honor Senõr Franco, let's examine just how much history has happened in his lifetime, beginning August 23, 1958, and how he was affected by it (bold= during baseball career):

1958- Hula hoops become popular.

1959- Fidel Castro takes power in Cuba.

1960- Lasers invented.

1961- Berlin Wall built.

1962- Cuban missile crisis.

1963- John F. Kennedy assassinated.

1964- GI Joe appears in stores (Julio starts playing with one of the many many toy trends he will outlive).

1965- US sends troops to Vietnam.

1966- Mao launches Cultural Revolution.

1967- First heart transplant.

1968- Bobby Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr assasinated.

1969- Neil Armstrong lands on the moon.

1970- Floppy disks debut.

1971- VCRs introduced (Julio pawns his zoetrope).

1972- Watergate Scandal begins.

1973- Abortion legalized.

1974- Mikhail Baryshnikov defects.

1975- Microsoft founded.

1976- Nadia Comaneci gets seven perfect 10s.

1977- Star Wars released.

1978- John Paul II becomes Pope.

1979- Mother Theresa earns Nobel Peace prize (Julio angry that young upstarts get all the recognition).

1980- Ted Turner establishes CNN (Julio vows to keep playing ball as long as CNN is on)

1981- Royal Wedding of Charles and Diana.

1982- Michael Jackson releases Thriller (Julio makes his Major League debut).

1983-Sally Ride is first woman in space.

1984- PG-13 rating created.

1985- Wreck of Titanic found.

1986- Bill Buckner blows the World Series for the Red Sox.

1987- Black Monday hits stock market (Julio trades in his old stock ticker)

1988- PanAm 103 disaster.

1989- Berlin Wall falls.

1990- Hubble telescope launched into space (Julio can corroborate what happened to stars millions of years before we see them- because he was there).

1991- Collapse of the Soviet Union.

1992- LA Riots.

1993- Internet use grows exponentially.

1994- Chunnel opens.

1995- Ebola spreads in Zaire.

1996- Mad Cow disease hits Britain.

1997- Scientists clone sheep.

1998- Viagra hits market.

1999- Euro introduced as new European currency.

2000- Y2K fails to cause mass destruction.

2001- Foot and Mouth disease hits Britain.

2002- Quaoar, a planet-like object, discovered in Kuiper Belt.

2003- US begins war with Iraq.

2004- Ronald Reagan dies.

2005- Pope John Paul dies.

2006- North Korea conducts nuclear missile tests.

So there you have it- Julio's long long long long long long long long life summed up in historical events.

Here's to a new year, Julio- may you break more records before you break your back!


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