49-year-old Julio Franco 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. In 2007, he became the oldest player to hit a home run in the majors.
“It was the hardest decision in my life,” Franco said in an interview published Saturday 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 infielder announced his retirement Wednesday night to his Mexican league team, the Quintana Roo Tigers. The league posted the news 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.