DENVER—Jamie Moyer showed up in spring training convinced he could make the Rockies rotation.
He spent the next six weeks convincing everyone else.
Now Moyer wants to spend the summer proving he can stay in the rotation, age notwithstanding. At 49, he is the oldest starting pitcher to make a major league roster. When he drew his first Colorado start at Houston on April 8, he became the second-oldest pitcher to start a big league game. On April 17 he became the oldest pitcher to ever win a major league game.
Satchel Page was 59 when he started for the Kansas City Athletics in September 1965, but that was more a product of the imagination of the late Charlie Finley, the A’s owner at the time, than anything else. Finley signed Page for the final weeks of that season and then decided to let him have a start. He worked three shutout innings, limiting Boston to a Carl Yastrzemski single with two out in the first.
Moyer’s opportunity is based on more than a curiosity. The Rockies think he can help a team that otherwise had only one pitcher, Jeremy Guthrie, who had ever pitched 200 innings in a season, and only one other, Jhoulys Chacin, who had started for a full major league season.
It was only fitting that the announcement Moyer had made the team came on March 30, the 20th anniversary of Moyer being released by the Cubs. That was the third year in a row he had been released, having been sent packing the two previous years by the Cardinals and Rangers.
“A lot has happened,” he said with a smile.
And now he has a chance to make even more happen.
“I look at this as an opportunity, a great opportunity to run with,” he said. “I don’t look at each start as my last start, but I have learned to appreciate things more. I’m not too sentimental, but I am aware.”
Hoyt Wilhelm was 49 when he opened the 1972 season with the Dodgers, but he pitched strictly in relief, appearing in 16 games and compiling a 2.84 ERA. Jack Quinn was used as a reliever 1932 and ’33, when he was 49 and 50.
Before his first win, it was mentioned to Moyer that he would become the oldest pitcher to ever win a game once he claimed the first one this season. He wasn’t impressed.
“I intend to win more than one game,” he said. “If age had a bearing on my decision I wouldn’t be doing this.”
Moyer’s motivation extends past personal accomplishments.
“This is an opportunity that I have and now it’s up to me to run with it,” he said. “I want to contribute here, that’s what it is all about. I want to contribute on the field and in the clubhouse. This is about pitching for a team and putting forth the best effort I can along with 24 other players to make the team successful.”
Moyer, who missed the 2011 season recovering from Tommy John surgery, came into the season with a 267-204 career record. He had won 233 games since turning 30, sixth all time for a pitcher after his 30th birthday, two behind Randy Johnson. Cy Young is the all-time leader, with 316 wins after 30.
Moyer’s 104 wins since turning 40 are second-most in baseball history, 17 behind Phil Niekro.
The Way To San Jose
The debate continues in the Bay Area on the Athletics’ desire to move to San Jose, with the Giants seemingly intent on blocking the A’s plans.
No other two-team market has divided territorial rights, but the Giants claim they control the San Jose area, and contend that was a critical part of their ability to finance AT&T Park. Giants officials also argue that Lewis Wolff and his partners were aware of that agreement when they purchased the A’s franchise from the Haas Family, which is why they were able to buy the team for $180 million.
“It is different because in 1990 when Bob Lurie wanted to move the Giants to San Jose, Walter Haas, the wonderful owner of the Oakland club, who did things in the best interest of baseball, granted permission,” commissioner Bud Selig said. “What got lost there is they didn’t feel it was permission in perpetuity. He gave Bob permission to go down there. Unfortunately or fortunately, it never got changed. We are dealing with a lot of history here.”