In 2005, Rafael Palmeiro's career ended in disgrace following a suspension for performance-enhancing drug use that came months after he vehemently denied using steroids before Congress. After receiving that 10-game ban, despite his countless accolades from two decades in the big leagues, Palmeiro was booed by his hometown fans in Baltimore. In September that year, he was sent home for good by the Orioles, who felt he was too big a distraction. That was it.
More than a decade later, Palmeiro wants to re-write the final chapter of his baseball career.
Despite turning 53 in September, he is thinking about trying to return to the majors, and the four-time All-Star believes he can still help a team, too.
"There's no doubt in my mind I can do it," Palmeiro told Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic. "I've taken care of myself really well. I've been working out for years. Everything feels better than when I played."
His optimism notwithstanding, Palmeiro's potential comeback attempt will be, in the words of his 22-year-old son, Preston, "probably the longest shot of all time." Never before in the history of Major League Baseball has a position player older than 48 appeared in more than a handful of games in a season. Additionally, though he's in the gym every day, his only professional at-bats in the last 12 years came in a one-off appearance for the independent Sugar Land Skeeters in 2015 (in fairness, he did go 2-for-4 with a walk).
Moreover, Palmeiro - who's confident he can still play first base, too - doesn't seem willing to entertain a indirect path to the big leagues, be it playing somewhere overseas first to generate interest or working his way up the minor-league ladder.
"If I go to spring training with a legitimate chance to make the team, I won’t have to go to the minors," he said.
Still, it only takes one brazen GM for Palmeiro - one of only five players in MLB history with at least 3,000 hits and 500 home runs - to get his shot.
"I want to prove to myself I can do it on a high level," he said, "then walk away feeling good about the whole body of work."