Baseball’s ageless wonder has become one for the ages.
The Colorado Rockies’ Jamie Moyer – at 49 years and 150 days of age – on Tuesday night became the oldest pitcher in Major League Baseball history to win a game, surrendering two unearned runs in seven innings to guide his new team past the San Diego Padres 5-3 in Denver.
He also tied Hall of Fame pitcher Jim Palmer for 34th on the all-time wins list at 268.
The previous oldest pitcher to win a game in the majors was the Brooklyn Dodgers’ Jack Quinn, who was 49 years and 70 days old when he beat the St. Louis Cardinals in 1932.
Moyer said it was a special night for him, but he said that during the game he was more concerned about having the Rockies finish their nine-game home stand with a winning record than history, according to MLB.com.
"For me to put that in front of the game really would be unfair to my teammates, unfair to myself," Moyer said, according to MLB.com. "It would tell me also that my focus and my attention were in the wrong place.”
Baseball’s attention is now focused on the man who easily could have given up the game two years ago, when – already the oldest active player – he injured his elbow.
In May 2010 – his 24th year in the big leagues – the pitcher, then with the Philadelphia Phillies, looked like he was going to enjoy another strong season as he became the oldest player to pitch a shutout with a two-hitter against the Atlanta Braves. But he hurt his elbow two months later, and again while pitching in the Dominican Republic in late fall. In December 2010, he had Tommy John reconstructive elbow surgery, named for the famed pitcher who had it in the 1970s at age 31.
Moyer said he intended to come back to the game, but the surgery generally requires a year of rehabilitation for pitchers. Entering this spring training, he joined the Rockies without a guaranteed roster spot.
But he pitched his way onto the starting rotation and has had a not-too-shabby 2.55 earned-run average in three starts this year. And he's become the most aged major-league hurler to return from Tommy John surgery.
After the win Tuesday, Moyer got slightly emotional.
"It's my life," Moyer said. "It's pretty much all I know. It's pretty much all I've done my whole life. I'm still able to live the dream."
Moyer is one of only four known players to have pitched in the majors at or beyond 49: Satchel Paige (59, in a one-time special appearance), Quinn (50) and Hoyt Wilhelm (49) were the others. Though Moyer’s fastball has dipped into the low 80s and upper 70s, he’s known to baffle his opponents with his change-up.
His record is now 268-206. Of his 268 wins, all but 34 came after he turned 30.
Moyer’s career, which began in 1986 with the Chicago Cubs (when Ronald Reagan was president and you could get a gallon of gas for 93 cents), is older than the Rockies team itself, which debuted in 1993. He also started playing before six people on the Rockies’ active roster were born.