A familiar face is making a comeback in professional baseball in North Texas, with a few grey hairs to show for his time off. Rafael Palmeiro signed on Wednesday with the independent Cleburne Railroaders, who play in the American Association.
Now 53, Palmeiro played 20 years for the Texas Rangers and Baltimore Orioles, and he won’t be making the trip to Cleburne alone.
The four-time MLB All-Star, who left the game more than a decade ago, was working out with his sons in the off-season, when it hit him.
"One day I just thought you know what, I think I can do this," Palmeiro said. "Here we are in Cleburne and this is hopefully the first step in the journey back to the big leagues."
And he won't be doing it alone.
"Wherever you go, I'm gonna go with you because we're gonna do this together," said Palmeiro’s older son Patrick.
He signed with the Cleburne Railroaders on Wednesday too. They'll hit the field together for opening day next week.
"It doesn't matter what it is, we're always competing,” said Patrick Palmeiro. “Hopefully we'll keep it friendly though."
Both father and son are hoping to catch the attention of a major league franchise.
"We're gonna be on each other,” Patrick said. “We're gonna be pulling for each other and trying to get the best out of each other."
"There's no pressure. I'm doing it because I love the game, I want to play again," Rafael Palmeiro said. "I've been in Yankees Stadium with 60,000 people, facing Mariano Rivera, that's pressure."
"Everyone's first thought is well he's 53 years old, he's lost his mind, what is he thinking?" Palmeiro said.
The Depot at Cleburne Stadium won't seat 60,000 but to the fans, Raffy's return is huge.
"He's one of my favorite all-time players in baseball," said Cleburne Mayor Scott Cain.
Mayor Cain hopes adding the Palmeiros to the Railroaders roster will boost the profile of his quickly-growing city.
"They're gonna know that Cleburne's a baseball town,” Mayor Cain said. “And I hope that they know that it's a great place for family."
With a family of baseball greats leading the way.
"It's gonna be a lot of fun," said Rafael Palmeiro.
The Cleburne Railroaders start their second season at home next Friday night at 7:00. For more information, click here.