Antique Arms

Posted: 04/19/2012 by levcohen in Baseball

In honor of Jamie Moyer’s record breaking Tuesday night win at age 49, fivetool has turned the keyboard over to me for a guest blog gig.  While throwing seven innings of our major league ball to earn a win at such an advanced age is impressive enough, doing so fewer than 16.5 months after having Tommy John surgery is even moreso.  As anyone older than most professional athletes can attest to, the body takes longer and longer to heal, and healing often means getting back to 80 or 90 percent.  Admittedly, Jamie never threw all that hard so he didn’t have much velocity to lose.  While I have enjoyed reading all the warm fuzzy commentary about this victory and how it will never be eclipsed by an older pitcher (except, perhaps Mr. Moyer in his next start), I don’t really agree.  It seems fairly likely, particularly given the diluted MLB talent pool, that some other crafty junkballer will come along and hang around long enough to knock Jamie Moyer off his decrepit perch.  As proof, note that while I assumed that his 103 wins in his forties must be a record, he is well short of Phil Niekro’s record of 121.  (If Moyer makes it into next season, or really deep into a weather delayed world series—his birthday is November 18—he could establish a record for pitchers in their fifties.)  Knuckleball pitchers seem custom built for this record, the only problem being their scarcity.  Baseball aside, my guess is that Moyer may hold the record among current major leaguers for parenting eight children, all with the same wife.  That is even more old school than his pitching style.  Never a hard thrower, his fastball now only approaches 80 from below, which points out another unbelievable piece of trivia about an older pitcher.  One of the more improbable pitchers to last more than halfway through his forties was Nolan Ryan.  At age 46-1/2 his fastball was supposedly still clocked at 98 MPH in his last start at Seattle, scene of many of Jamie Moyer’s victories.  If true, this strikes me as far less likely to be surpassed than Moyer’s record.  Perhaps the most impressive of records related to senior pitchers is Satchell Paige’s appearance at age 59 in a game for Charlie Finley’s Oakland A’s.  The temptation is to analogize this outing to Bill Veeck’s use of the midget Eddie Gaedel for one four-pitch at bat in 1951.  However, Paige worked three innings, giving up one hit to Carl Yastrzemski, and no runs.  Interestingly, Veeck had signed Paige to a minor league contract with the Phillies’ triple affiliate, the Miami Marlins (sound familiar?) in 1956 at age 50.  He flourished not only that season, but the following one as well, and even in 1958 won ten games, presumably a record for 52 year old triple-A pitchers.

-Philabundant

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Comments
  1. Marinite says:

    How appropriate for a semi-centenarian to appear as guest columnist!

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