#50 Pushes For Success At 50 – Phillies Fans Will Still Cheer For Moyer
On August 19th of 2006, Jamie Moyer got to come home to play for the team he rooted for as a child. From his humble roots growing up north of Philadelphia (in Soudeton), to attending St. Joseph's University in the city area - producing one the greatest pitching seasons in the schools history, to defying the odds and actually becoming a better pitcher in his late 30s and 40s when most guys are being released or retiring. Moyer's final act will hopefully defy the odds one more time, and take the pitcher's mound at 50!
Moyer was acquired by the Phillies to help their staff stay in contention for a push toward a potential Wild-Card berth. The team fell short by 2 games, but Moyer won 5 of his 8 starts down the stretch and the love affair with the homegrown ageless wonder began.
Moyer would win 16 games for the 2008 squad, post an ERA around 3.70, throw about 200 innings, and was quite the most excited member of the Phillies in winning the World series over the Tampa Bay Rays. At 45, this should have been the perfect final chapter for Jamie to go out on, but the story continued.
Moyer pitched another 2 seasons for the "Phightin' Phils", won 21 games over the 2009 and 2010 seasons but his innings pitched were going down along with his strikeouts while his ERA was up by more than 1 run. One highlight of the 2010 season was on May 10th when he pitched a 2-hit shutout over the Atlanta Braves, making him the oldest pitcher to toss a shutout in Major League Baseball history.
Elbow surgery ended any chance of Moyer pitching in 2011, and many thought this closed the book on his 24 seasons in baseball. Jamie spent the last year working for ESPN, and his natural charisma and likable personality ensures him a very good future in broadcasting, but the story for Jamie Moyer and baseball is not over yet.
As baseball beings the preseason in Florida and Arizona, there stands #50 at the age of 49 in a Colorado Rockies uniform in the hopes of making their team without a guaranteed contract. The odds of Moyer making it back to the Big Show seems impossible, but somethings may be in his favor.
1) Moyer has gotten better with age
Jamie twice won 20 games in a season with the Seattle Mariners in 2001 and 2003 - he was 40 when he began the '03 season, and became an All-Star for the 1st time in his career (at 40!) Moyer has won 103 games in his 40s, making him one of the most effective pitchers in his 40s in baseball history.
2) Moyer has never been a hard thrower
Jamie's style of pitching has always been that of finesse. He never was a power pitcher who could launch pitching in the mid-to-upper 90 MPH range. He has always been able to pitch to spots, change speeds to make his fastball look deceptive (although it only seems to hit the low-to-mid 80s at best). Coming back from this injury, Moyer recently said he fells like he has a "new arm" - a reconstructed elbow could make that possible, and his style means he will not be affected by this surgery that much (even at 49).
3) Moyer has already defied baseball logic his entire career
Moyer has never been on any list of suspicious baseball behavior - no signs of steroids or HGH (Human Growth Hormones) that have tainted the great game, which makes his advanced age success so impressive. He did not want to end his career with an injury, and based on his tenacity I would not bet against him.
4) Moyer has motivation
Not only for the reason above, but Jamie is a border-line candidate for baseball's Hall Of Fame. Moyer is 33 wins shy of 300 for his career. A younger Jamie Moyer (at say 45) could easily reach this milestone and HOF lock, but he would need to average 11 wins a year for 3 season, which would have him pitching at 51. He's close, and there is something inside this great athlete that has to want to get it.
They say every great athlete has one great fight left inside him, which could explain why Jamie Moyer has received so much attention the last couple of weeks. His 1st preseason outing for the Rockies went decently - 2 innings pitched, giving up just 1 run, striking out 1 and throwing 42 pitches.
No Phillie fan will root against Moyer in his quest to maybe pitch through his 50th birthday, and have his age match his uniform (#50 on his back).
Nothing is impossible as we seen with the likes of George Foreman in 1994 (winning boxing's world heavyweight title at 45 - oldest in history), Tom Watson in 2009 (finishing tied at golf's British Open after 72 holes at 59), and the great Nolan Ryan in the 90s (tossing no-hitters at the age of 43 and 44). The story is not over yet for Jamie Moyer, and I will watch him this season and marvel at his talent - we do not know how much longer we will get to watch one of the truly good men of baseball perform on the mound.