Sometimes I wonder if Jamie Moyer is going to be the first Major League player to go directly from an active roster to receiving benefits from the sport’s pension plan.
The name of Satchel Paige’s autobiography was “Maybe I’ll Pitch Forever.” Moyer may be trying to. On the eve of the 2012 season, Moyer, at age 49, is attempting to fight his way onto the Colorado Rockies’ opening-day roster and into the rotation of the always-short-on-pitching Mile High franchise. This is what I say to Jamie: You go, guy!
This is great stuff. Moyer may be the only player in baseball who spends his evening trying to strike out Matt Kemp, then goes home to find mail from AARP. AARP is better at tracking down people on its most wanted list than the FBI. Months before any American’s 50th birthday (as they try to pretend they are not getting older) they find a recruiting letter in the mailbox with the equivalent of an Uncle Sam Wants You notice from AARP. There’s no escaping those guys.
AARP will definitely want to sign up Moyer if he continues to play ball. Heck, the moment he turns 50 (next November 18) the organization will probably put him on the cover of its magazine (not as good as Baseball Digest, but not a bad consolation prize). Age alone would provide some favorable publicity for Moyer, but he is also trying to come back from serious injury. He has not pitched in a Major League game since July of 2010 when he was with the Phillies and his left arm started to fall apart. Then he hurt it again in Dominican Winter League ball.
So Moyer spent the 2011 season on vacation. Just about every other player in history was retired by his age, so once Moyer suffered a major injury everyone thought that was it. But something still stirs in him and as long as his rehabbed arm could fling he decided to take one last fling. One might think 24 years of Major League pitching was enough, but (and this is probably Moyer’s reasoning) there aren’t many other better jobs out there, so why not keep it up as long as you can?
Moyer has a lifetime record of 267-204. It’s been said that possibly no other pitcher will ever win 300 games. Moyer might reach the milestone in 2015 when he’s 52. An All-Star once with the Seattle Mariners. Moyer has always been considered a first-class guy. He has won more awards for his charitable contributions (including the big one, the Roberto Clemente Award) than he has directly for playing. So he is basically a good guy to have around a team.
One reason Moyer can keep this up is because he has never been a true fireballer who has relied on supersonic speed to get the job done. He is a soft tosser, counting on location to fool batters. The early returns from Rockies spring training (Moyer’s 28th) were positive. In nine innings Moyer was 2-0 with a 1.00 earned run average. Those are keeper numbers in anybody’s language.
“I’ve kind of looked at my whole career as a spring training invite,” said Moyer, who has played for the Mariners, Phillies, Cardinals, Red Sox, Rangers, Orioles and Cubs.
Those are the words of a man who knows he has never had it made, that he has to make his own breaks. He is doing that again right now, as he has for a quarter of a century. Who isn’t rooting for Jamie Moyer to break into the Colorado Rockies’ rotation?