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Julio Franco, 55, to play for independent league team in Fort Worth

Six years since his last professional game, and nearly 36 years since his professional debut, Franco will play pro baseball again.

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Longtime Major League veteran Julio Franco, who last played organized baseball in 2008, will suit up as a player -- presumably one last time -- for the independent Fort Worth Cats this month. The move will allow Franco to play professionally in five different decades.

Franco, 55, signed on with Fort Worth as a player/coach and will join the team for its first homestand beginning May 20. He last played in 2008, at age 49, with Tigres de Quintana Roo of the Mexican League.

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"I’m very excited about the opportunity to play and coach in Fort Worth and reconnect with my friends, former teammates and Texas Rangers staff members," Franco said in a statement. "I love Fort Worth and I’m very excited about the opportunity to work with the younger players and entertain the fans."

Franco began his playing career in 1978 at age 19 with Butte in rookie ball in the Pioneer League. He played in 23 big league seasons from 1982-2007, made three All-Star teams and, in 2007, became the oldest person in MLB history to hit a home run at the age of 48.

In addition to the majors, Franco has played in Mexico, Japan, Korea and now in the independent United League, which expanded Forth Worth's initial homestand through May 28 after news of Franco joining the team.