July 27, 2011

Julio Franco: Giant-Headed Immortal Dynamo

Julio Franco, 1991 Score All Star

Julio Franco played Major League Baseball for 38 years, thanks in large part to a steady diet of wheatgrass and HGH (Honey Gnut Herios, the generic brand). He accomplished much during this time—Wikipedia says he was the last MLB player eligible to wear a batting helmet with no ear flaps, so there’s that—but his dream was always to be depicted as a caricature with a gigantic head on a baseball card as a result of making the All-Star team, a feat he accomplished early in his career, at a ripe 42 years of age. After that, everything was gravy, which is a figure of speech, as Franco would never eat gravy. (He maintains he tried gravy once, in college, and didn’t like it, and spit it out.)

But I know what you’re wondering, ye who has never heard of Julio Franco and has come to this blog with the intention of acquiring all of the necessary information about him: Did Julio Franco rise to the occasion?

A clutch hitter who rises to the occasion,

I would have written, “A riser to the occasion who is clutch,” but I guess it doesn’t really matter. Also, that’s what she said.

he was voted MVP of the ’90 All-Star Game when his two-run double drove in the only runs of the game. Later, Julio’s third career grand slam in the ninth inning insured Nolan Ryan’s 300th career victory.

I was not aware that Nolan Ryan’s 300th career victory came in the 1990 All-Star Game, thanks to a late grand slam in the ninth inning of a game that ended 2-0. Assumptions like these can be made when you use the word “later” as a blanket to cover an unspecified time span. Nevertheless, we have learned that Julio Franco rises to the occasion with clutchness, and the examples of such occasions are a) the seventh inning of a scoreless All-Star Game that does not mean anything, and b) the ninth inning of a game in which Nolan Ryan is attempting to win his 300th career game and would like some insurance runs. Containing in his back pocket the confidence of having risen to the occasion on said occasions, Julio Franco will have no problem doing likewise when it’s the bottom of the ninth inning of Game 7 of the World Series at Wrigley Field, Cubs versus North Korea, the stakes are death, and he is playing for the Cubs, which is a scenario Franco still hopes to realize one day. He is only 84.

But here’s something I was thinking—what does Red Sox manager Joe Morgan think about all this?

“That Franco is dynamite,” said Red Sox manager Joe Morgan.

No disrespect to Julio Franco, but that statement must be taken with a grain of salt, as Red Sox manager Joe Morgan has also been recorded saying the following:

"That Roseanne is dynamite!"

"That paperboy is dynamite!"

"That Paperboy is dynamite!"

"That Rueben sandwich looks dynamite!"

"That parking space is dynamite!"

"That commemorative quilt is dynamite, honey!"

Non-Red Sox manager Joe Morgan also chimed into the Franco discussion in 2004:

"I haven't seen the young man play, but I hear he is dynamite."


Jason said...

The grand slam was just a matter of CYA by Julio who, not being known for his fielding prowess, had booted two ground balls earlier in the game.

Sean said...

Hats off for not grasping at the low-lying fruit that is the Barry Bonds card from that same set.

mkenny59 said...

@Jason: I would NOT want to boot ground balls on Nolan Ryan's watch, so ... good decision by Julio there, to hit a salami.
@Sean: I shouldn't take credit for restraint. If I had the Bonds card, I would almost definitely use it. Grasping at low-lying fruit is kind of my thing!
Thanks for the comments!