Franco, 49, Retires From Mexican League, Professional Baseball

Julio Franco, here playing for the New York Mets in 2006, retired after a 23-year major league career with eight teams and professional stops in the Dominican Republic, South Korea, Mexico and Japan.
Julio Franco, here playing for the New York Mets in 2006, retired after a 23-year major league career with eight teams and professional stops in the Dominican Republic, South Korea, Mexico and Japan. (By Tom Hood -- Associated Press)
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Sunday, May 4, 2008

Julio Franco finally called it quits.

The oldest player to hit a home run in the majors announced his retirement from baseball after a 23-year career in the major leagues and stints in his native Dominican Republic, South Korea, Japan and Mexico.

"It was the hardest decision in my life," Franco said in an interview published yesterday by Mexican sports daily Record. "I always said I would be the first one to know the exact moment. I think the numbers speak for themselves, the production speaks and this is the right moment.

"I understand that my time has passed and the great men and athletes know when to say enough."

The 49-year-old infielder announced his retirement Wednesday night to his Mexican league team, the Quintana Roo Tigers. The league posted the news on its Web site the next day.

Franco last played in the majors in 2007, when he played in 55 games with the New York Mets (40) and the Atlanta Braves (15). He batted .222 with one home run and 16 RBI in 90 at-bats.

Franco hit his last major league home run against Randy Johnson on May 4, 2007. At 48, he became the oldest player to homer in the majors.

The Dominican retired with a .298 average, 2,586 hits and 173 home runs in 23 seasons in the majors with eight teams.

ยท BOXING: Firat Arslan earned a convincing decision against Takoma Park's Darnell"Ding-A-Ling Man" Wilson in the first defense of his WBA cruiserweight title in Stuttgart, Germany.

The German pressed the fight form the opening seconds, hitting Wilson with regularity from the second round when a left hook sent the American to the ropes.

All three judges ruled the fight 117-111.


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