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Rafael Palmeiro is ready to make a major league comeback... at age 53

The disgraced first baseman retired as one of four MLB players with 500 home runs and 3,000 hits. Now, he's one of five.
Rafael Palmeiro MLB comeback
Twelve years ago, Rafael Palmeiro walked away from a successful MLB career after steroid use tainted his legacy, but he wants to go out on his own terms. Photo: Flickr/kbrav

Rafael Palmeiro had a successful Major League Baseball career until it came to an end in 2005 after testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs. The former Orioles first baseman is ready for the next phase of his life — his MLB comeback.

Will there really be a Rafael Palmeiro comeback?

Sure, Palmeiro is 53 and hasn’t played in the major leagues for 12 years, but instead of an asterisk next to his achievements —only one of five players in MLB history with 500 home runs and 3,000 hits —the four-time All-Star player wants to remove the stain on his career and leave MLB on his own terms, according to reports.

“There’s no doubt in my mind I can do it,” Palmeiro told The Atlantic’s Ken Rosenthal. “I’ve take care of myself really well. I’ve been working out for years. Everything feels better than when I played.”

Leaving the MLB in disgrace

Palmiero walked away from the game quietly in September 2005 after he was suspended for testing positive for steroids, going down in history as the first MLB player to be suspended for doping.

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Months before the 10-month suspension enacted in August 2005, he vehemently denied using steroids at a Congressional hearing.

"Let me start by telling you this: I have never used steroids, period,” he testified at the time, ESPN reported. “I don't know how to say it any more clearly than that. Never."

Palmeiro still maintains he never used steroids.

"Maybe 12 years later, if I can come back and prove I don't need anything as an older player with an older body, then people might think, OK, maybe he didn't do anything intentionally," Palmeiro said, ESPN reported.

"It would be an interesting story," Baltimore general manager Dan Duquette said, ESPN reported. "It's like tying your shoes ... If you can hit, then you can hit."

Nothing less than the majors for Palmeiro

If Palmiero does end up in the Orioles dugout, his son Preston would be a co-worker of sorts. The 22-year-old plays for the Class-A affiliate, but dad doesn’t plan on spending any time in the minors.

"If I go to spring training with a legitimate chance to make the team, I won't have to go to the minors," Palmeiro told Rosenthal.

Rosenthal spoke to a few anonymous MLB managers who weren’t optimistic about Palmeiro’s chances. The closest a GM came to encouraging words was when he told The Atlantic the former Chicago Cubs and Texas Rangers player "would need to dominate in an independent or overseas league for a team to even consider him."

Palmeiro’s name was dropped from the MLB Hall of Fame ballot in 2014, so he really has nothing to lose and everything to gain. Sure, he’s going back into the majors at 53 when the oldest regular position player was Julio Franco, who retired in 2007 at age 49, but he believes in himself.

"I want to prove to myself I can do it on a high level then walk away feeling good about the whole body of work,” he said, ESPN reported.

 
 
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