Can 49-year-old Moyer make MLB comeback?
Jamie Moyer pitches with the Phillies in May 2010, two months before he hurt his elbow.
January 19th, 2012
06:33 PM ET

Can 49-year-old Moyer make MLB comeback?

Jamie Moyer, the only Cy Young Award contender ever to pitch against Cy Young (we're exaggerating slightly), apparently wasn’t kidding when he said he’d try to return from reconstructive elbow surgery.

The 49-year-old starting pitcher and oldest active baseballer agreed with the Colorado Rockies on a minor league contract with an invitation to the big club’s spring training, the Rockies announced Wednesday.

Moyer, who won a 2008 World Series ring with the Philadelphia Phillies as baseball’s oldest active player at 45, would be among the four oldest pitchers ever if he’s on the Rockies’ roster in April.

And the southpaw with a 267-204 record would be the most aged hurler to return from Tommy John surgery.

“We think (he’s the ultimate pro),” Rockies general manager Dan O’Dowd said, according to the Denver Post. “If he can still get people out will be the question.”

Moyer last pitched in 2010, when the ageless wonder was enjoying another strong season. In May 2010, his 24th year in the big leagues, 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 surgery, named for the famed pitcher who had it in the 1970s at age 31.

The surgery generally requires a year of rehabilitation for pitchers. Weeks after the operation, Moyer told a reporter in Seattle, where he had played for nine full seasons, that he intended to come back.

“I'll probably get a spring-training invitation (rather than a guaranteed roster spot), and rightly so. I don't have a problem with that,” Moyer told the Seattle Times in December 2010. “Throughout my career, I've always had to earn the situation I've been in.”

Only three pitchers have played at or beyond 49: Satchel Paige (59, in a one-time special appearance), Jack Quinn (50) and Hoyt Wilhelm (49). Though Moyer’s fastball has dipped into the low 80s, he’s known to baffle his opponents with his changeup.

Of his 267 wins, all but 34 of them came after he turned 30.

Moyer’s career, which began in 1986 with the Chicago Cubs, is older than the Rockies (the team, that is), which debuted in 1993. He also started playing before 14 people on the Rockies’ active roster were born.

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Filed under: Baseball • Colorado • Sports
soundoff (21 Responses)
  1. James Lathe

    Satchel Paige pitched until 1966, when he was 59 (perhaps older his year of birth is listed as 1906).
    Bob Feller admitted when he pitched against him in exhibitions that Paige was a better pitcher

    April 7, 2012 at 4:42 pm | Report abuse |
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