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Greg Prince and Jason Fry
Faith and Fear in Flushing made its debut on Feb. 16, 2005, the brainchild of two longtime friends and lifelong Met fans.

Greg Prince discovered the Mets when he was 6, during the magical summer of 1969. He is a Long Island-based writer, editor and communications consultant. Contact him here.

Jason Fry is a Brooklyn writer whose first memories include his mom leaping up and down cheering for Rusty Staub. Check out his other writing here.

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I Hope I Look That Good At His Age

The New York Mets today signed 47-year-old Julio Franco to a senior league contract. He will report to their Frostproof, Fla. affiliate in time for the early-bird special.

OK, got that out of my system. Y'know what else is out of my system?

Cairo, DeFelice, Graves, Mientkiewicz, Offerman, Heredia, Takatsu and — this should send everybody dancing into the snow barefoot — Gerald Williams. Looper, too. (Not so sanguine about the disappearing of Robero Hernandez, but you can't have every old thing.)

We talked about dead roster spots in the second half of last season. Episodes of deadwood, really. Julio Franco's older than them all…combined. And that's not counting his real age, whatever it is (it probably ain't 47). He calls Jose Valentin “kid”. He calls Jose Reyes “as yet unborn”. Remember that charming story about how Lou Brock mistook Tom Seaver for the clubhouse boy at the 1967 All-Star Game and Seaver, awed, brought him a soda?

Big deal. Julio Franco does that sort of thing every day. Leo Mazzone spent the last five years leaving Geritol by his locker and waiting for tips.

YES, he's old. And YES, that's the stuff of about a jillion obvious jokes for us slightly younger middle-aged unathletic sorts. I'm not going to crack any more of them until further notice because last I checked, that old bastard could hit. It probably helped he was wearing an Atlanta uniform, but he's doin' somethin' right. (“Doin' somethin'” is the necessary construction here because the practice of spellin' words so they'd end in “ing” hadn't been invented when Julio was comin' up.)

As for Jose Valentin, I'll tell you what I know about him:

1) He put up great power numbers before injuries curtailed him.

2) That's the sort of thing we acquired Mo Vaughn based on EXCEPT Jose Valentin isn't penciled in as our cleanup hitter.

3) He's not John Valentin, a mistake I commonly made before John Valentin summered here in 2002.

4) I once sat in a hotel room in the vicinity of O'Hare, breathing in fumes and straining to pull in a staticky Mets-Brewers game from Milwaukee and heard Bob Uecker continually refer to the Mets manager as Bobby Valentin.

If I haven't mentioned it before, I'm psyched for Tike Redman. This is based completely on two performances against us, Bob Murphy Night when he got three hits and Murphy's Law Night last July in Pittsburgh. What could go wrong did go wrong, though Tike was as responsible as ex-Met Braden Looper for that. If he doesn't produce for us as he did against us, it will take me months to acknowledge it. “Don't you remember what he did to us? He's GREAT!”

Of course he may literally not do a damn thing for us. A year ago we were probably cooking up snarky lines on our own about Kerry Robinson, Ron Calloway, Luis Garcia and The Old Cat Andres Galarraga. They wound up not helping us but they didn't hurt us a bit.

It's December. We've got Julio Franco. I hear the cold works wonders at preserving old treasures.

8 comments to I Hope I Look That Good At His Age

  • Anonymous

    More great things about Julio Franco:
    * Wears Onion on his belt as it was the fashion at the time he broke in
    * Was born in 19 dickety 5 'cause the Kaiser has stolen all the 0's
    * Makes many a baseball fan (and Glavine) feel that much younger
    * Can teach Reyes and Wright how to shave
    * Can teach Pedro, Beltran and other Latin players how to say “This wouldn't happen if Taft were President” in Spanish
    * Will be first player at ballpark @5am but will still need his “Matlock Break” around 3pm (it's in his contract)
    * Will be first Met since Casey to nap between innings but will awaken to pinch hit any time, any place

  • Anonymous

    He'll be worth every bee we pay him, bee being what was on the nickel when he was coming up. Gimme five bees for a quarter, you'd say…

  • Anonymous

    Stop that, you two.
    Though jeez, look at Julio's teammates on the '82 Phils. Sparky Lyle. Willie Montanez. Bill Robinson. Del Unser. Tug McGraw. Tug came up in '65 and played with Warren Spahn, who made his debut in '42. Forget Mets history — that's World War II, in just two jumps.
    1982? That was the Reagan administration — first term, no less. It was the year of the now-very-quaint Falklands War. The Tylenol scare. The nutty play with the Stanford band. The Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. Belushi's death. E.T. and 48 Hours. The debut of Cats. That year's albums included Asia, Rio, Thriller, and 1999. The best-selling single of the year was “I Love Rock 'N Roll.”
    Hell, I only quit collecting baseball cards (as a child, as opposed to a bald old geek) in 1981.
    Fuck that was a long time ago….

  • Anonymous

    Julio: Man, Omar. I remember my rookie year we were rocking out to Tug's Thriller record so hard that we got headaches, only we couldn't take any Tylenol because it had all been recalled.
    Omar: Yeah, I remember that record. I was…23. Umm. Wow.
    [long moment of silence.]
    Omar: You know, I think we can only go two years, Julio.
    Julio: It's all good.

  • Anonymous

    Given my penchant for such things, I can actually remember what I was doing on April 23, 1982, the Friday night when Julio Franco made his ML debut. It was the end of my second-to-last week of my freshman year in college. I was on a date at the then-nearby Steak and Ale; I may have had steak, kinda doubt I had ale. If I had known a Met I'd be rooting for 24 years down the line was busy singling off Bob Forsch for his first Major League hit, I'd have insisted on going to a sports bar to watch.
    Except sports bars as we know them had yet to be invented.
    Y'know what else? The albums you mentioned — I don't think they were yet released as of April 23, 1982. Maybe Asia, but Thriller came later and I don't think Rio really broke for quite a while. “Ebony and Ivory” was racing up the charts if it hadn't already peaked. In fact, most of what you mention happened later in '82, after Julio Franco came into baseball existence. That's how long ago it was.
    The Mets lost to the Expos at Olympic Stadium 5-4 that night. Or as Joshua might ask you, “Daddy, what's an Expo?”

  • Anonymous

    Oh, don't get specific on me. :-)
    I can't remember what I did that night, but I can guess with 98% accuracy: Did homework in some half-assed fashion, talked to my friend Erik about the latest Hit Parader, listened to Judas Priest until my mom yelled at me to turn it down, and reread parts of the Monster Manual and/or Deities and Demigods.
    While we're at it, the Soviets didn't invade in '82. Seigenthaler was right; Wikipedia is so frickin' unreliable.

  • Anonymous

    Yeah, I was gonna let that one go. They were probably still hanging around though.

  • Anonymous

    Thanks for the D&D reference. BTW, I'm happy to say my gang of 17th level+ characters kicked Tiamat's ass and even scored a Vorpal sword amongst the booty. Sure, I think I cheated like hell, but when you're your own DM, there aren't many dissenters. Hey, you don't forget these achievements.
    Oh, back to baseball. Those early eighties were the salad days of 2B for the Phillies farm system. Unfortunately, they bypassed on Franco and Ryne Sandberg and wound up resting their future on (gulp) Juan Samuel. Actually, Samuel was pretty damn good for a 5 year stretch until his OBP became impossible to deal with. That left them with the only viable thing to do…trade him to the Mets.
    And they scored Dykstra on the deal too…a ready-to-make star, all they needed to do was add steroids.