Jamie Moyer talks about what keeps him going at 49
By Jacob Thorpe
Special to 710Sports.com
At 33 years old, Jamie Moyer wasn’t a young man when he first pitched for the Seattle Mariners back in 1996. Now, at 49, he’s downright ancient by MLB standards. In fact, in April he became the oldest pitcher to win a game in MLB history.
But the soft-tossing left-hander isn’t done yet. Currently, he pitches for the Las Vegas 51s, the Triple-A affiliate of the Toronto Blue Jays. On Thursday he faced off against the Tacoma Rainiers and the Mariners’ top pitching prospect, Danny Hultzen, giving up three runs over five innings while striking out six.
On Friday, Moyer joined “The Kevin Calabro Show” and talked about what keeps him going, and how he’s been able to pitch at a high level for so long.
Despite being long past the age when virtually every professional ballplayer decides to hang up his cleats, Moyer continues to seek out every opportunity to play. He has signed minor-league contracts with the Rockies, Orioles and Blue Jays this season. Eager to play, he’s pushed ego aside and accepted very little money for a former All-Star.
“I enjoy the competition and I enjoy trying to compete, and really trying to bring something to a team,” Moyer said. “My body still allows me to do it, my arm feels great, and it’s all about opportunities and taking advantage of those opportunities.”
Moyer seems to realize, however, that his career is no longer in his hands. Whether or not he ever takes the mound again as a Major League pitcher will be a decision made by men in suits, men who may or may not see the value in a pitcher who can’t have many years left in his arm.
“I’m really not sure and I’m going to leave those decisions up to them,” Moyer said. “The only thing I can do is take advantage of the opportunities here I’m being given and if it works out, great.”
But the amount of strength in that aging arm may not matter for a pitcher like Moyer, who explained that speed has never been the crux of his game, but rather command, the ability change speeds and, most importantly, the ability to read hitters.
“It’s the [same] fastball I’ve always had, it just doesn’t compare to the ones everyone else is throwing,” Moyer joked.
One of those young pitchers with a live arm is Hultzen. A young phenom with his career ahead of him, Hultzen was born just around the time Moyer started pitching for the Texas Rangers, having already spent three years in the Majors with the Chicago Cubs.
But in their battle on Thursday, experience won out as Moyer picked up the win. Hultzen showed his stuff, striking out six in four innings, but also showed he still has a lot to learn after allowing four walks.
For his part, Hultzen deferred to his elder, telling reporters after the game, “That was awesome to watch. It was really cool to not only play against him but just watch him. A guy you looked up to growing up, you’re on the same mound. It was really cool.”
Hultzen may not get another opportunity to pitch against his former idol. While Moyer clearly wants to play baseball as long as the sport will have him, he talked openly of “reevaluating things” if it doesn’t work out with the Blue Jays. Moyer won’t be the reluctant retiree, still begging for tryouts long after the game has passed him by.
“I enjoy doing it and I know when my time is up it’s not like I’m going to be coming back and trying to pitch half a season,” Moyer said. “When it’s that time it’s that time and I’m just going to try and make the best of the situation I’m in on a daily basis and see where it takes me.”