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Jamie Moyer leads baseball's Ageless Wonders All-Stars

The Rockies hurler becomes the game's oldest pitcher to win a major league game, inspiring the selection of an entire lineup of players who stretched the age envelope.

By Ross AtkinStaff / April 18, 2012

Colorado Rockies starting pitcher Jamie Moyer throws in the second inning of a baseball game against the San Diego Padres on Tuesday, April 17, 2012, in Denver.

Chris Schneider/AP

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Jamie Moyer of the Colorado Rockies broke a Major League Baseball age barrier Tuesday night by becoming the oldest pitcher to ever win a game at age 49. He handcuffed the San Diego Padres for seven innings, picking up the “W” in a 5-3 victory.

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The performance proved that the Rockies didn’t simply put Moyer in the team’s starting rotation as a ticket-selling gimmick, which has happened. Does anyone remember, for example, the Chicago White Sox bringing Minnie Minoso out of retirement for two games in 1980, at the age of 55, so that he could play in four different decades?

Moyer’s place on the Colorado Rockies is no AARP stunt. He still can get batters out, and not with either overpowering stuff or an elusive knuckleball, which has been the low-stress delivery that most often has led to pitching longevity. Hoyt Wilhelm and Tim Wakefield come to mind. 

Moyer’s 78 m.p.h. fastballs barely warm up a radar gun, but he is a crafty mound artisan who keeps hitters off balance with changes of speed and location and enough movement in his pitches to make solid contact a challenge. Against the Padres, he gave up only six hits and two unearned runs. 

ESPN studio analyst Barry Larkin says Moyer excels at pitching by “subtraction,” which means ratcheting down the speed of his deliveries to both keep the hitter’s out of sync while also tempting them to over-swing to generate the power that pitch’s speed doesn’t provide.  It is extremely frustrating going against Moyer, Larkin says, because you know you’ll get something to hit, but you can’t do that much with it.  

This isn’t to say players don’t connect against him. In fact, he has given up more home runs than any player in history, 511. But he also won 268 games, which ties him with Jim Palmer for 34th on the all-time list.

Moyer, who is now with his ninth different team, sat out the entire 2011 season while recovering from reconstructive arm surgery.

The father of eight children is older than eight current managers and 16 general managers, according to The New York Times. He also was 80 days older when he beat the Padres than Jack Quinn of the Brooklyn Dodgers when Quinn set the record for oldest pitcher to win a game in 1932. Quinn was 49 years, 70 days old when he accomplished the feat.

With his effort Tuesday, Moyer secures a place on the Monitor’s Ageless Wonders Baseball All-Star Team, acing out Satchel Paige as our starting pitcher. Here are our other picks, by position:

First base
Cap Anson
He spent most of his 27 careers with the Chicago Cubs and retired at age 45 in 1897. Anson has been called the game’s first superstar and was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1939 by the Old-Timers Committee. Called “Cap,” which was short for “captain,” Anson is the first player to ever collect 3,000 hits. A racially intolerant person, he reportedly refused to take the field against teams with black players.

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