Jamie Moyer, the 49 year old left-hander who is now throwing his junk for the Colorado Rockies, recently became the oldest pitcher to ever win a major league game. Moyer may be the baseball personification of the old line that “age and treachery will always overcome youth and skill.”
Moyer faced 25 year old Pittsburgh Pirate standout Andrew McCutchen three times Tuesday night. Moyer was pitching in the Majors before McCutchen was born and the kid never reached base against the old man. McCutchen couldn’t believe it.
“I can’t believe he got me out,” McCutchen told the Associated Press. “You know he has nothing to throw by you, but he just nitpicks.” No, actually Andrew, he pitches – well – and has for a long, long time.
An admiring Hall of Famer and former Moyer teammate, Goose Gossage, said it well: “He throws slow, slower and slowest. How else would you describe it?”
Moyer is an inspiration to aging jocks everywhere. I’ve probably seen him pitch more games in person than any other pitcher of his – or my generation – and like most fans I’ve sat in the stands thinking “even I could hit this guy.” Nope.
Moyer’s fastball screeches in at a top speed of 79 miles an hour. Goose Gossage brought it closer to 100, but it’s really not the speed that matters with the cagey Moyer. It’s the competitiveness, the smarts and the experience that matter. Moyer has taken care of himself, been a student of his craft and, no big surprise, has learned a lot in 25 years with nine different teams.
And, aging jocks take notice, a 79 mile an hour fastball is still beyond the reach of most people. Don’t believe me? The Fort Myers Miracle, the Minnesota Twins affiliate in the Florida State League, are running a promotion where a fan can win a ticket to a future game if they can top 79 on a radar gun. More than 80 folks spent a buck a piece the other night to crank up three pitches in hopes to throwing harder than the ancient Moyer. No one did. One frustrated pitcher spent $50 on the promotion and no doubt left with a sore arm, heckling from his buddies and a hole in his wallet.
Moyer is proof that age is, in many respects, a state of mind. Winston Churchill was 65 when he became Prime Minister of Great Britain and 77 when he took over the second time. Christopher Plummer won as Oscar at 82 and the great Jack Nicklaus was 46 when he won the Masters. Experience and perspective matter in so many ways. It helps to hit the exercise bike, too.
Moyer says the key for him is how he feels the day after he pitches. Considering the typical aches and pains most of us start to feel on the long side of 40, it’s hard to imagine rolling out of the sack at age 49 the morning after throwing 100 pitches. My back hurts just thinking about it.
Think you can hit a Moyer fastball? Most of us would be lucky to foul one of his pitches off. Think you can throw a Moyer fastball? Not gonna happen for most. At the ripe old age of 49, Jamie Moyer gives all of us cause to marvel at those who play the boys game so well when the arrival of the AARP card is just around the corner. Age and treachery, indeed. But don’t count out experience and desire, important ingredients for success at any age.