Ichiro became the 5th-oldest player to start Opening Day; here are the others
Ichiro made his debut in professional baseball in Japan back in 1992 -- a lot has changed in the world since then:
On Thursday night, Ichiro made his dramatic return to Safeco Field after a half-decade with the Yankees and Marlins. He started in left field and hit ninth for the M's against Corey Kluber and the Indians, entering the 2018 season as the second-oldest active player in baseball, behind only Bartolo Colon.
But his start in the outfield is also a larger piece of history: At 44 years, 5 months, and 7 days, Ichiro became the 5th-oldest player in MLB history to start on Opening Day. Who were the four players older than Ichiro to get an Opening Day nod? Let's take a look at the elderly elite company he joined:
Fourth Oldest: 1B Pete Rose (44, 11 months 25 days) -- 1985 Cincinnati Reds
In the final season of his long career, Rose started himself at first base for the season opener against the Expos, tallying two hits and three RBIs. Wait, started himself? Yeah, that's right, Rose was the player-manager for the Reds, the last time we've ever seen that in the big leagues. What a hilariously inconceivable thing that concept is nowadays ...
Third Oldest: 1B Julio Franco (45) -- 2004 Atlanta Braves
Franco's first career Opening Day start was in 1983 for the Cleveland Indians at 24 years old. Twenty-one years later, Franco became the third-oldest player and the oldest position player to ever start on Opening Day. Unfortunately, Franco and his eternal bat went hitless that day against the Mets, but he did go 2-for-2 with three RBIs the following game.
Second Oldest: RHP Charlie Hough (45 and 46) -- 1993 and 1994 Florida Marlins
As a 45-year-old in 1993, Hough was the starting pitcher in the first ever game for the Florida Marlins franchise, throwing a solid six innings and capturing the win. Look at that phenomenal knuckler float its way through the South Florida air like a butterfly:
Then, the following season as a 46-year-old, the knuckleballer started on Opening Day again -- becoming the second-oldest Opening Day starter in MLB history. Hough's insanely long career began when he was 22 in 1970 and went all the way to 1994. To put that in context, his career started during the Nixon administration and ended during the beginning of the Clinton administration. Totally bananas.
Oldest: RHP Jack Quinn (47) -- 1931 Brooklyn Robins
Not only is Quinn the oldest Major Leaguer to ever start on Opening Day, he also happens to hold the honor of being the only MLB player ever to have been born in Slovakia. His Opening Day start in 1931 was also, oddly enough, his only start that entire season. The Robins moved him to the bullpen, where he ended up finishing the year as the league leader in saves. Quinn is also the oldest pitcher to start a World Series game and was also the oldest player to ever hit a dinger until the aforementioned Julio Franco broke that record in 2006.