When former Oriole Rafael Palmeiro told Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic recently that he hopes to stage a comeback at age 53, it took me right back to spring training in 1991.
That was the year that Hall of Famer Jim Palmer decided that he still had something left in the tank and got himself invited to camp to compete for a place on the young Orioles pitching staff.
Obviously, everyone was skeptical. Palmer had just been inducted into the Hall of Fame and he had not pitched for the Orioles since making five appearances in 1984.
Still, he wasn't 53 and he wasn't a position player. He was 45 and there was another guy still pitching in the American League (Nolan Ryan) who was little more than a year younger than him who had just won his league's strikeout title for the fourth year in a row.
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Palmer didn't embarrass himself. He had decent command of his pitches and made one exhibition appearance against the Boston Red Sox before giving up the attempt because of a hamstring tear.
"What you get in touch with is that you have to be 100 percent in every way," Palmer said at the time. "It's like a 12-cylinder Jaguar. You have to be running on all 12 cylinders to perform at this level when you're 45, or when you're 37 for that matter."
He just needed to know, after not feeling that he left the mound on his own terms five years earlier.
Palmeiro has a bigger dragon to slay. He told Rosenthal that showing he can still hit at 53 might convince some people that he was telling the truth when he said that he unintentionally ingested the steroid Winstrol during the 2005 season.
He paid a heavy price for being baseball's first superstar to test positive under baseball's new performance-enhancing drug program. He quickly left the game in disgrace and was snubbed by Hall of Fame voters because of his association with baseball's PED scandal.
There was some logic in his alibi. He insisted that there was no reason anyone would knowingly take that risk at the point where he was in his storied career, but it didn't matter. He became the poster boy for PED abuse.
So, here we are 12 years later and he still wants a chance to clear his name ... or maybe he just wants to look like he wants to clear his name in the hopes of getting some sympathy from the voters who will make up the Hall's "Today's Game" committee that will consider overlooked players who ended their careers from 1988 to the present.
No one can argue with his numbers, but it's going to be hard to find enough voters willing to take him at his word.
Is it possible that he can still play?
Who knows? He would certainly make for an interesting storyline during the boring early days of spring training, but it is highly unlikely that any major league team is going to invite him to camp ... and the Orioles already have too many first basemen.