Rafael Palmeiro proving he can still hit at 53

 Fifty-three-year-old Rafael Palmeiro (right) is proving that he can still hit professional pitching with the independent American Association's Cleburne Railroaders this season. His son, Patrick (left), is also playing for the Railroaders. Photo Credit: Cleburne Railroaders

Fifty-three-year-old Rafael Palmeiro (right) is proving that he can still hit professional pitching with the independent American Association's Cleburne Railroaders this season. His son, Patrick (left), is also playing for the Railroaders. Photo Credit: Cleburne Railroaders

By Devon Teeple

The GM's Perspective

The guy can flat out hit. There’s no denying it.

Twenty MLB seasons, 569 home runs, 1,835 RBI, 3,020 hits and a .288 batting average all says Hall of Fame. Unfortunately the finger point and vehemently denying his use of performance enhancers has forever tarnished his legacy.

Whether he knowingly or unknowingly took steroids or it was that allegedly tainted B-12 injection from teammate Miguel Tejada, anything he ever did in the game is regarded as irrelevant. Once Palmeiro returned from the 10-game suspension, the Orioles told him to stay home. That was that. His career was over and there was nothing he could do.

Fast forward 13 years, and the former first-rounder is 53 years old and playing Independent League baseball for the Cleburne Railroaders of the American Association. Also on the squad is his 28-year-old son Patrick, who is in his sixth pro season and fourth in Indy ball.

Twenty-six games and 100 at-bats later Palmeiro is hitting .293 with five home runs, 15 RBI and owns a .926 OPS.

This isn’t his first foray into post MLB lifestyle. In 2015, the elder Palmeiro took the field with Patrick to make history. He appeared in one game for the Sugar Land Skeeters going 2-for-4 driving in one.

After being relatively quiet for the past 13 years, Palmeiro wants to rewrite the ending to a storied career that took such a disastrous turn. Will he ever find forgiveness? Will he ever be accepted again by his peers? We may never know. But one thing’s for certain, on the ball field, the guy is automatic.

Devon Teeple

Danny was born in Ted Lindsay's hometown of Renfrew, Ont. but his roots are in nearby Douglas. He played 27 consecutive seasons of top-level amateur baseball in the senior ranks in Ontario, Saskatchewan and Quebec and thrived on organizing events himself, the major one being the highly successful 1983 Canadian senior men's tournament in Sudbury. He began covering the Montreal Expos in 1988 when he joined the Montreal Daily News. Later, he was the Expos beat writer for the Ottawa Sun and Associated Press. He has written four baseball books, including Remembering the Montreal Expos, which he co-authored with Bill Young of Hudson, Que. Gallagher and Young are currently working on a book about the ill-fated 1994 Expos squad. Gallagher can be reached here: dannogallagher@rogers.com