Rafael Palmeiro is 53 years old, and he can’t resist the siren call of baseball. The Dallas Morning News reported on Tuesday that the retired slugger has signed a contract with the Cleburne Railroaders, an independent team that plays in the American Association, to play ball. Palmeiro is back in professional baseball once again.
Why is Palmeiro back in professional baseball?
According to the Dallas Morning News, Palmeiro signed a contract with the Railroaders to play with his 27-year-old son, Patrick. Patrick also plays for the Railroaders, and this allows father and son to play on the same team together.
But there’s a little more behind it than family togetherness. Palmeiro announced in December that he wanted to play Major League Baseball again, but despite posting videos of himself in the batting cage putting a hurting on some baseballs, no offers materialized. Even though he originally said he didn’t want to sign with an independent team, playing baseball again was obviously his main priority. Here’s what he told the Dallas Morning News.
“I’m looking forward to it,” Palmeiro said via text on Tuesday. “Nobody gave me a chance to go to spring training, so I will just take this path.”
How long has he been out of baseball?
Before his one-game appearance with the independent Sugar Land Skeeters in 2015, Palmeiro last played with an MLB team in 2005. In August of that year, when he was playing for the Baltimore Orioles, he was suspended 10 games for testing positive for PEDs (back when the punishment was just a handful of games instead of half a season). After he returned from his suspension, he played in just seven more games before an injury — and blowback from his steroid suspension — took him out of the lineup for good. It probably wasn’t how Palmeiro, who had more than 3,000 hits and smashed over 500 homers in his career, wanted to hang it up. That could be part of what’s driving him to return — a desire for a better ending to his playing career.
Could this take him back to the majors?
In a word, no. (In four words, really really really no.) Though you never truly know what could happen, the chances of this turning into anything but a fun father-son activity are essentially nonexistent. He’s 53, and at that age, it doesn’t matter what great shape he’s in. There’s just no place for him in the majors, or even in the minors. Plus, zero MLB teams were interested in Palmeiro during the offseason, and unless Palmeiro hits .500 with 50 home runs, a stint with an independent team isn’t going to change that.
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