Pitcher Attempts Major League Comeback at Age 49

Jamie Moyer has won 267 games

By Greg Wilson
|  Thursday, Jan 19, 2012  |  Updated 7:52 AM CDT
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Pitcher Attempts Major League Comeback at Age 49

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Can he still do it?

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Jamie Moyer is 49 years old, but he believes he can still get Major League hitters out.

The soft-tossing lefty, who missed all of last season after undergoing Tommy John surgery, has signed a minor league deal with the Colorado Rockies, according to Fox Sports' Jon Morosi. Moyer will go to spring training with the big club, with a shot at making the roster.

Moyer expects to be at 100 percent health when camp opens next month. In 2010, before his injury, he posted a 4.84 ERA and 1.10 WHIP in 111 2/3 innings for the Phillies.

Moyer, a veteran of 24 Major League seasons, has a 4.24 career ERA and 1.32 career WHIP. time went.

“I don’t think that I’m old," Moyer said two years ago, when he was already by far the oldest player in the league. "Regardless of what people think or say I still feel like I can go out and compete, and that’s my ultimate job.”

There have been older players in the Major Leagues, but few whose best years came when their peers were retiring. That's the difference with Moyer: He won 20 games - the benchmark for pitchers - for the first time at age 38, then did it again at 40. He won just 34 games in his 20s, but has piled up 112 in his 40s. He now has 267 victories for his career, and insists he has no immediate plans to go off into the sunset.

Here are some other baseball players who have stuck around long after hitting the big 4-0:

 

- Hoyt Wilhelm - Like Moyer, his best years came after his 30th birthday. In fact, he was 29 when he first pitched in the majors, in 1952. Unlike Moyer, Wilhelm, who stuck around until he was 16 days shy of 50, tossed less physically taxing knuckleballs. But those floaters got him to the Hall of Fame after a stellar career as a starter and reliever.

- Phil Niekro - Another knuckleballer who came into his own after turning 30, Niekro pitched until he was 48, piling up 318 wins and making it to the Hall of Fame.

- Nolan Ryan - The exception that proves the rule that only lobbers can last, Ryan was still throwing well over 90 miles per hour when he retired in 1993 at age 46. With 324 career wins, he was elected to the Hal of fame in his first year of eligibility.

- Satchel Paige - All of his best years came in the Negro Leagues, when blacks were barred from the majors. But Paige, who famously said, "Age is a case of mind over matter. If you don't mind, it don't matter." finally got his chance in 1948 at age 41. He pitched for five years before coming back for a three-inning stint in 1965 at age 59. The Red Sox managed just one hit off of him.

- Julio Franco - bona fide superstar at shortstop in the 1980s and early 1990s, Franco used a grueling fitness regimen to prolong his career well into his 40s, finally retiring from a pinch-hitter role with the Mets in 2007 at age 49.

- Minnie Minoso - He retired from a stellar career at age 38 in 1964, but was brought back by the White Sox as a pinch hitter in 1976 at age 50 and again in 1980 at age 54. Call it a stunt, but he can say he played in the major leagues in five different decades.

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