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Rockies' Pitcher Jamie Moyer Sets Age Record


This week, we saw a triumph of experience and patience on the pitching mound.


UNIDENTIFIED ANNOUNCER: Rockies led it 5 to 3. Jamie Moyer to the history books. At 49 years and 150 days, he becomes the oldest pitcher in Major League Baseball history to win a ball game.

BLOCK: That's right. Left-handed pitcher Jamie Moyer, of the Colorado Rockies, broke an age record set way back in 1932. And he joins me to talk about his longevity in the majors.

Jamie Moyer, congratulations. Thanks for talking with us today.

JAMIE MOYER: Thank you, Melissa, and thank you for having me on.

BLOCK: For a little perspective here, when you made your Major League debut back in 1986 - I was looking at the Rockies' active roster - six players on your team weren't even born yet. How do you do it? What's kept you in the game?

MOYER: Well, I've had a lot of good fortune. I - for the most part, through most of my career, I've been able to stay injury-free. Unfortunately, in 2010, I had - tore a ligament out of my elbow and had it replaced and actually, had my flexor pronator reattached to my forearm, and rehabbed it for the last year and a half. And now, I'm back pitching again.

BLOCK: I'm curious about the mechanics, though, because I gather you were never known for your fast ball, even when you started out with the Cubs. Right?

MOYER: No. I've never been a hard thrower. I've really relied on my mechanics, and trying to be an effective pitcher with the lack of velocity that I have - and rely on location and deception.

BLOCK: So what does that mean? It's about finding the corners of the plate, off-speed pitches?

MOYER: Yes. And trying to work into hitters' egos and using their ego against them - and try to change speeds. Try to present every pitch looking the same, but the end result isn't the same. And, you know - again, like I said, using their aggression, using their egos against them.

BLOCK: Do you think fans maybe get too caught up in the pitchers who throw heat, who throw just blistering fast balls? And you've never been one of those guys. Your fast ball...

MOYER: Well...

BLOCK: ...I think, tops out at around 80 miles per hour.

MOYER: Yeah. That's where the game is today. It's with velocity and that's, you know, what organizations promote and, actually, that's what they scout. You know, when they go out and look for pitchers, it's the kids that throw 92, 94, 96 - you know - miles an hour; those are the kids that, you know, organizations are drafting nowadays. There aren't as many kids that are in the mid to upper 80s getting drafted and from my point of view, I'm not a big believer in that because obviously, I haven't been that guy. And I think careers tend to be a little bit shorter.

BLOCK: Yeah, for sure. I was looking at your stats page, Jamie Moyer. It fills an entire screen because you've been at this for so long, with so many teams - starting with the Cubs then Texas, St. Louis, Baltimore, Seattle, Philadelphia and now, Colorado. Also...

MOYER: You forgot Boston.

BLOCK: I forgot Boston. OK. Well, there you go. Maybe - there aren't that many that you haven't been with.

MOYER: That's true.

BLOCK: There were also several stints in the minors. And I was wondering if there was ever a time when you were with the Toledo Mud Hens or the Tulsa Drillers that you thought, you know, Jamie, it's time to hang up the cleats; this is just not going my way.

MOYER: Well, there have been many a - people that have suggested that. And I just felt that, you know, there was something I could still bring to the game. And, as long as you have an opportunity - and that's one thing I've learned about life - as long as you have an opportunity in life and you're ready, and you're prepared to handle it and deal with it, you know, the sky's the limit.

And this is a game that I love. I have a passion for this game and I still believe, at the age of 49, that I can contribute to this game of baseball.

BLOCK: I read that the Cubs, when they released you 20 years ago - you were 29 years old - they offered you a coaching job.

MOYER: They did. They did. They offered me...

BLOCK: What did you say?

MOYER: ...a coaching job in Peoria. And, like I said, I just felt that I had something - some more to give to the game. And a lot of that was proving that to myself, but also proving to, you know, the people in baseball that make decisions that, you know, I still had something to offer to the game.

BLOCK: Hmm. I read this about you, Jamie Moyer, that you always thank the home plate umpire when you leave the mound.

MOYER: Well, I don't always thank him because sometimes, I don't think they do a good job, but most of the time I do. And I respect the umpires because, you know, here's a position on the field where, if you think about it, in somebody's eyes, they're never right. It's a tough livelihood.

But I always do want to show my appreciation when I feel that they do a good job.

BLOCK: Is that unusual for pitchers?

MOYER: You know what, when I first came to the big leagues, it was a pretty common thing. Now, I don't see it as common as it was when I first broke into the game.

BLOCK: Well, Jamie Moyer, it's great to talk with you. Thanks so much and again, congratulations.

MOYER: OK. Thank you very much, Melissa. Have a great day.

BLOCK: You, too. That's pitcher Jamie Moyer of the Colorado Rockies. This week, he became the oldest pitcher in the history of Major League Baseball to win a game at 49 years, 150 days. The record was set 80 years ago.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.