Most 53-year-old men are looking forward to their retirement plans to execute in the decades to come, but not Rafael Palmeiro. The former Mississippi State and Major League slugger is doing everything he can to get out of retirement, even if some people think he’s crazy for doing so.
After marketing himself as a potential pickup for Major League Baseball organizations in need of a veteran left-handed swing through the winter, the man with 3,020 big-league hits and 569 homeruns is again a professional baseball player after 13 years away from the game.
Palmeiro has signed a contract to play for the Cleburne Railroaders of the independent American Association, according to a report from Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News. Terms of the deal were not immediately disclosed.
“I’m looking forward to it,” Palmeiro told Grant via text message on Tuesday. “Nobody gave me a chance to go to spring training, so I will just take this path.”
Palmeiro will get the chance to play alongside his oldest son, Patrick, who also is on the team. The Texas-based independent league team will begin its season on May 18, and Palmeiro is expected to be there with his legendary bat in tow.
A strong performance in this league, even at his advanced age, might give MLB teams a reason to give a comeback a second thought. It certainly could put fans in seats for a team out of contention late in the season.
Though the former Bulldog has put up Hall of Fame-worthy statistics, his 20-year Major League career was mostly ignored by the voters following a positive test for performance enhancing drugs during the latter stages of Palmeiro career. The failed test followed an outspoken appearance in front of the United States Congress during which he vehemently denied using any such items while infamously pointing his finger at the panel in disgust, making him a controversial figure in the debate on Cooperstown worthiness of star players from his era.
In 2015, the SEC Network released a 30-for-30 style documentary called “Thunder and Lightning” which chronicled Palmeiro’s quest with fellow former big leaguer Will Clark to put Mississippi State into the College World Series during the 1985 season.