Rockies veteran lefty impresses peers with passion for game
By John Schlegel / MLB.com
Anybody pushing 50 or having already hit the half-century mark -- that is, anybody born in 1962 like Jamie Moyer -- must hold a special appreciation for what the seemingly ageless left-hander will do this weekend.
Anyone who is Vintage 1962 has to be with the guy, all the way.
At age 49, just seven months shy of receiving an invitation to join the AARP, Moyer will be registering an ERA in the Major Leagues starting Saturday with the Colorado Rockies -- who incidentally had not begun their 20-year history when Moyer entered the Majors in 1986. (Yes, you could say he's older than the Rockies, or you might check Twitter for even better Moyer age jokes.)
Of the dozens of boys born in 1962 who grew up to put on a Major League uniform, only Moyer -- born Nov. 18, 1962 -- is standing between the lines. Moyer will be trying to become the oldest pitcher to win a game when he gets his first assignment for the Rockies on Saturday.
Moyer among athletes, entertainers born in '62
One thing that Jamie Moyer's comeback reminds us of is that 1962 was a good year for baseball players and other talented folks.
While new Hall of Famers Roberto Alomar (1968) and Barry Larkin ('64) were both born after Moyer, several other top players -- Roger Clemens, Darryl Strawberry, Devon White, Tony Fernandez, Darren Daulton, Wally Joyner, Dave Magadan, to name a few -- were born in 1962, as was A's general manager Billy Beane, the No. 1 overall pick in 1980.
Bo Jackson, the two-sport star whose career in both baseball and football ended too soon, is among a host of top National Football League stars born the same year as Moyer, from Hall of Famer Jerry Rice and quarterback Doug Flutie to Herschel Walker -- incidentally, still kicking around in mixed martial arts.
There's also Kansas Jayhawks coach Bill Self, who led his team into the NCAA Championship Game, and NBA Hall of Famer John Stockton, who watched his son play into the Sweet 16 with his alma mater, Gonzaga.
Among other famous folks born in 1962, according to famouswhy.com and Wikipedia, there's Hollywood and stage actor Matthew Broderick -- whose famous "sa-wiiiiing, battah" scene at Wrigley Field from "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" took place in 1985, one year before Moyer made his debut with the Cubs. There's Anthony Kiedis, who's making a comeback from injury of his own as the Red Hot Chili Peppers frontman hits the road for a tour of the U.S. and Europe following foot surgery -- perhaps a parallel to Moyer coming back from Tommy John surgery.
Tom Cruise, Demi Moore, Jodie Foster, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Jim Carrey, Wesley Snipes -- all born in '62 and bound for boffo box office.
It's the kind of story that hits home for anyone the same age as Moyer, a feat that can bring a sense of pride to someone in any walk of life.
With that in mind, MLB.com sought out a few thoughts from others who are, like Moyer, Vintage 1962 and have a passion for baseball:
Eric Davis, Reds special assistant to the GM Born on May 29, 1962, Davis was drafted four years before Moyer, coming straight out of high school in L.A. while Moyer went to St. Joseph's (Pa.) University. By the time Moyer was drafted in 1984, Davis was already turning heads with his tools in the Majors, debuting with the Reds at age 22 en route to two All-Star appearances and three National League Gold Glove Awards.
"It's outstanding. I wish I had a changeup and a curveball," said Davis, who hopped between fields as an instructor for the Reds this spring.
Of course, Davis knows it takes more than just being left-handed and breathing to hang around long enough to pitch at age 49.
"You have to give him credit for being able to master his craft and to be able to withstand decade after decade, pitch after pitch and understanding what his strengths are," Davis said. "And then you also have to credit the people that trust him and trust his arm and to make the decision to give him that opportunity. It's a win-win-win for everybody."
That said, Davis -- still looking fit as ever with his wiry-strong frame -- would not want to take another crack at playing in the Majors at age 49.
"Not to play the way I played, no. I'd break up everything if I tried to do it at this age," Davis said. "Certain people are built in certain positions to do things in [a certain] type of way. The only thing I can do is tip my hat to him and support him at 49."
Pam Shriver, tennis player/television analyst Born on July 4, 1962, Shriver is a 23-time winner of Grand Slam titles, 22 in doubles and one in mixed doubles, and a member of the International Tennis Hall of Fame. Shriver has been a bold and insightful presence in tennis coverage with ESPN since her retirement at age 34. She also happens to be a minority owner of the Baltimore Orioles. At the outset of her tenure, Moyer pitched for the O's from 1993-95.
"One of the first things I thought of was remembering him when he was in his prime in the first part of his career, and how he great longevity, great consistency, had the strategy and the intellect," she said. "Even though he wasn't in the elite of talent, he was sort of in the elite in being smart and knowing how to pitch a game. To me, as long as his arm's OK, why not?"
Particularly with Martina Navratilova, her partner for all 22 of those Grand Slam doubles titles, Shriver has seen athletes go the distance before. Navratilova, after all, won her last Grand Slam title in mixed doubles at the age of 49 and played well into her 50s.
As for Shriver, she's content being on the Brentwood Country Club golf team and going skiing with her children, something she tried to point out to ESPN while finalizing her latest contract.
"There was a clause about if I decided to compete again on the WTA Tour, and I kind of said, 'Look guys, it's been 13 years since I've played a match, I've got three little kids, I'm going to be 50. It's not possible,'" Shriver said.
Still, Shriver sees why a pitcher like Moyer could be hitting the mound when he's pushing 50.
"The strength of the legs and the arm, does it really fall off much in the 10 years between 39 and 49? I'm not sure it does nowadays," Shriver said. "I think we all know enough and we all have a different mind-set about being 49 than we did a couple of decades ago."
John Farrell, Blue Jays manager Born on Aug. 4, 1962, Farrell is entering his second season at the helm of the Blue Jays after 10 years in coaching and parts of eight seasons as a pitcher in the American League prior to that. He was a second-round pick out of Oklahoma State in that 1984 Draft, four rounds ahead of Moyer, and finished his playing career at age 34. After attaining a degree at OSU, Farrell went into coaching and player development before earning his spot at the helm of the Blue Jays last year.
"I think it's awesome. Perseverence, work ethic ... I mean the guy has just come back from Tommy John at the age of 49 to make a big league club," Farrell said. "I think it's a hell of a story, and whether it's Omar [Vizquel] in our camp at the soon to be age of 45, they haven't quite gotten their AARP cards yet, but it's great to see.
"It speaks volumes to the way they keep themselves in shape, their love of the game clearly shines through. You look at guys who come in on Major League contracts that set their ego aside, they're probably pretty good self-evaluators on what their abilities are currently, and I think it's just great for the game of baseball."
Nick Turturro, actor/fan Born on Jan. 29, 1962, Turturro showed his baseball fanaticism, and especially his love for the Yankees, in the MLB Network series "I Breathe Baseball." With dozens of credits on the big screen and television, Turturro has a passion for acting that might only be exceeded by his passion for baseball, which he's shared in media appearances and hopes to bring across in a podcast project.
"Listen, if he still loves the game, he's still got a passion for the game and he's still got the desire, I think it's great," Turturro said. "Obviously, the guy throws junkballs and he couldn't break a freakin' hard-boiled egg. But the great thing is the guy loves the game, he's a student of the game, he still has the passion and the desire. He can get big league hitters out as a left-handed pitcher and he's crafty, I love it."
Turturro points out that Moyer isn't the first older gentleman to enter the fray at an advanced age, pointing out George Foreman was going toe to toe in the boxing ring until he was 48. But if the old guy's doing it and doing it right, Turturro is in.
"If you're past your prime and you're going to embarrass yourself, or it's painful to see something like Willie Mays missing a fly ball in '73 against the Oakland A's, that's one thing," Turturro said. "But if you're still productive and can help a team and you still love what you're doing, great. That's a great thing about sports and even what I do -- you don't have to retire if you're taking care of your body."
Actually, Turturro still hits the mound now that he's 50, and definitely against younger players -- well, kids.
"I've got a torn rotator cuff and I'm throwing batting practice," Turturro says. "My passion is crazy for baseball. It's good to have some good old guys, man."
Mark Gardner, Giants bullpen coach Born on March 1, 1962, Gardner debuted in 1989 was a starter and sometimes reliever for the Expos, Royals and Marlins before joining the Giants in 1996, in many ways a peer of Moyer's for more than a decade. He's been with the Giants ever since, serving as the team's bullpen coach after his retirement in 2001 and perpetuating many community-minded efforts begun with his late wife, Lori. The Giants' relief corps he oversees has been among the elite in the NL the past several years, and he'll be in the bullpen when Moyer is expected to make his second start of the season Thursday vs. the Giants.
"He's left-handed, they live forever. They're recyclable," said Gardner. "No, we all think it's amazing what he's doing. To have movement and control of all your pitches, it just shows you how far you can go with that. He's had some setbacks in his career and some injuries and stayed with it, so you tip your hat."
Gardner knows as well as any expert in the pitching department that Moyer's still got the tools to get hitters out, if only through guile and experience. On top of that, Moyer's willingness to get into the 162-game marathon again speaks volumes about what's inside.
"He's not an easy guy to figure out. Those hitters are still going to have to be on top of their game," Gardner said. "It's definitely a grind, but it's a part of his life. He's been doing it for about 30 years of his life. It's in your blood, it's in your life. And if you have the fire inside of you still, it's easy to do, in a way. Right now, he's still motivated, and that gets you through a lot of things."
Hey, you want a guy born in '62 to serve as a day laborer on the most disgusting but necessary tasks around, you could get Mike Rowe of "Dirty Jobs" fame. You want the best way to cook almost anything, complete with scientific formulas, you could get Alton Brown. You want a famous or infamous person grilled in an in-depth interview, call on ABC News' Elizabeth Vargas. Humor with a political twist? Jon Stewart's your man.
But you want a guy born that year with a fastball that would get passed on Interstate 25 on the way to Coors Field and even slower stuff that has been buckling knees in the Major Leagues since before Rockies rotation mate Juan Nicasio was born, you know where to turn:
Rockies left-hander Jamie Moyer, Vintage 1962.
John Schlegel is a national reporter for MLB.com. Reporters Gregor Chisholm and Mark Sheldon contributed to this report. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.