Thursday, April 19, 2012

Jamie Moyer: The Ageless Wonder

This week, Jamie Moyer became the oldest pitcher in the 143-year history of Major League Baseball to record a victory in a game. At age 49 and currently a member of the Colorado Rockies, he beat the San Diego Padres, 5-3, by going seven innings and allowing just two runs on six hits. He walked two and struck out one. His fastball reached just 79 miles per hour.

Moyer is the No. 2 starting pitcher in the Colorado Rockies’ rotation. He made his major-league debut on June 16, 1986 when Ronald Reagan was president. Little did he know he would still be pitching some 26 years later.

There has been plenty of attention on Moyer for his historic feat and for his ability to still compete at the highest level of professional baseball. I know I’m not the only one who is fascinated by the man, but I just feel like I am someone who has always had that extra bit of admiration for individuals who defy the odds. There are so many norms in this world we live in. Isn’t it great to see someone do something that is so abnormal and unique once in a while? It makes you realize that humans can do certain things that people never thought were possible. It makes you smile.

USA Today’s Mike Lopresti wrote a terrific piece on Moyer and all of the interesting facts and statistics about how long he has been around. Perhaps the most striking thing is that Moyer had Tommy John surgery at age 48 – and was pitching when Tommy John was still an active player. This particular surgery is considered quite risky for baseball players in terms of how well they pitch after having it done and how long their careers will last. For Moyer to still be a starter at his age after having this surgery a year ago is incredible. He represents the smallest of fractions that you could possibly calculate.

You also have to think about how difficult it is for someone in his late 40s to be in good enough shape to be a major-league player. The majority of baseball players rarely extend their careers into their late 30s, yet Moyer is now a decade past that point. You have to give him so much credit for staying in shape and maintaining a lifestyle that has enabled him to  continue to compete. Yes, you could argue that he has good genes. Yes, you could argue that, as a starting pitcher, he only has to suit up for a game every five days. But what you can’t argue is that he has such a passion and love for baseball. That could be the biggest reason why he is still on the mound.