Julio Franco, 56, signs in Japan

TOKYO -- Former major league All-Star Julio Franco has signed a contract at age 56 to be a player-manager for the Ishikawa Million Stars of Japan's independent Baseball Challenge League.

The Stars announced Tuesday the signing of the Dominican Republic native, who played parts of 23 major league seasons for eight teams from 1982 to 2007, with stints in Japan, Mexico and South Korea during that time.

Franco, a three-time All-Star infielder and former American League batting champion, played for the Fort Worth Cats of the independent United League last season.

Franco was the oldest active player in the majors when he played his last game for Atlanta in 2007 at the age of 49. He has played professionally in five different decades, starting in the minors in 1978 at age 19.