A great deal of high school pitchers can throw 80 mph with little to moderate success. Some go on to play at the college level while others call it a career, leaving the child’s game forever and a day. Some are talented enough to be equipped with a 90 mph heater and have to leave the sport in their early 30’s due to a drop in velocity. It’s just the way the game goes. The laws of physics have their boundaries. Jamie Moyer cares not for your laws, physics. The 49 year old beat the San Diego Padres to become the oldest pitcher to ever win a game. I smell a Disney flick starring Dennis Quade.
On June 16, 1986, Moyer made his major league debut for the Chicago Cubs against four time CY Young winner Steve Carlton. Moyer earned his first victory against the 300 game winner. This was merely the beginning to Moyer’s long and tumultuous career.
Moyer has played for eight teams throughout his career which has encompassed 26 years: the Cubs, Rangers, Cardinals, Orioles, Red Sox, Mariners, Phillies, and Rockies. He is the only player to throw a shut out in four separate decades (’80s, ’90s, ’00s, ’10s). He is one of three players to win 100 games after turning 40 years old.
While some of the best pitchers of this generation saw careers come and go, Moyer kept chipping along. Racking up start after start, reinventing himself as his velocity continued to dip annually. Moyer was in the Baseball Tonight studio as an analyst last season while he recovered from Tommy John surgery. At 48. Yet, here he is again. Call it a midlife crisis if you want, just don’t call it a comeback. Fact remains, Jamie Moyer never left.
With 268 career wins, one starts to wonder if Moyer can reach 300. While it seems like an absurd sentiment, consider that Buster Olney while working for the Baltimore Sun thought that Moyer had his best baseball behind him… in 1994. Moyer was 32 then, an age when plenty of pitchers hang em up. Moyer could have easily called it a career, instead he continued to work moving to the Red Sox for a season before heading to Seattle for 11 seasons.
Moyer pitched his best baseball in Seattle, even though he was 34 when he arrived in the Pacific Northwest. When he left at 45, Moyer was Seattle’s all time leader in games started, wins, and innings pitched. He posted a 3.97 ERA over those eleven years with a 145-87 record. He made his only All Star appearance in 2003, at 41.
He has aged like a fine wine. Who knows how much longer he will pitch for the Colorado Rockies. Who knows if the Rockies will be the last team he pitched for. If you told Jamie Moyer the rookie that he would win his 268th career game at Coors Field for the Rockies he would have been mightily confused. Mainly because the Rockies were not even a team when Moyer made his debut. Players have come and gone. Teams have changed uniforms, relocated, and expanded. Hell, the team Jamie Moyer’s Phillies beat in the 2008 World Series became a franchise AND changed names long after Moyer’s career began. Here’s to the ageless wonder who wife is more smokin’ than his 80 mph fastball. Congrats, Jamie. Let’s hope you have 32 more wins left in that southpaw of yours.