53-Year Old Rafael Palmiero Playing for Return to MLB

July 10, 2018 07:55 PM

Former major league baseball star Rafael Palmiero is playing in the American Association of Professional Baseball - an independent league that includes the St Paul Saints - as he tries to make an unprecedented run back to the big leagues.

Palmiero and his Cleburne Railroaders are in town this week for a series against the Saints at CHS Field in Saint Paul.


Click the video box on this page to hear Rafael Palmiero discuss life as a 53-year-old in independent baseball, and the challenges he faces in his quest for an unprecedented return to Major League Baseball

Palmiero played in Major League Baseball for the Cubs, Rangers and Orioles from 1986 to 2005, but his career came to a sudden halt when he was suspended after testing positive for steroids.

He famously disputed his failed test during a Congressional hearing on performance enhancing drugs pointing his finger and asserting, "I have never used steroids, period."

Palmiero's career numbers should make him a lock for the Baseball Hall-of-Fame.  He's one of six players in baseball history with more than 3,000 hits and 500 home runs.

However, he is no longer on the annual Hall of Fame ballot after his vote total in 2014 dropped below the requisite 5-percent to remain on the ballot for future consideration.  He first appeared on the ballot in 2011.

Palmiero joined his son Patrick on the Cleburne Railroaders roster this season. Aside from some travel considerations - he flies to distant road games while the rest of the team rides the bus - Palmiero hopes to follow the same path to the big leagues every player in the American Association dreams of.

A return to MLB would potentially restart Palmiero's clock for Hall of Fame consideration.  He could return to the ballot again five years after his final game in the majors.

Only five players have ever played Major League Baseball into their fifties - and a couple were more-or-less publicity stunts.

Satchel Paige is the oldest ever to appear in MLB when he pitched three innings of one game for the Kansas City Athletics at age 58 in 1965. 

The oldest player in MLB's modern era to play more than a few games in a season was was Jamie Moyer, who started ten games for the Colorado Rockies at age 49 in 2012

44-year-old Texas Rangers pitcher Bartolo Colon is the oldest active player in Major League Baseball.


Chris Long

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