Even in the case of 49-year-old pitcher Jamie Moyer, all good things must come to an end.
Moyer debuted in the major leagues in 1986 and has spent the last 25-plus seasons pitching for eight different teams. He was designated for assignment earlier this week by the Colorado Rockies. Given that he’s 2-5 with a 5.70 ERA in 10 starts, Moyer is probably done pitching in the major leagues.
He’s had a historic career, though, one that began before I was born and continued through my college years. Here’s a list of the top 25 moments of Moyer’s professional career.
Back when Jamie Moyer was drafted, you, your parents and your grandparents probably weren’t born yet. Moyer was a sixth-round selection of the Chicago Cubs in the 1984 MLB amateur draft after having a solid career at St. Joseph’s, where he set the school’s single-season record for wins, ERA and strikeouts.
Jamie Moyer ascended quickly to the major leagues, reaching the show in just his third pro season. Moyer’s first major league start was against future Hall of Famer Steve Carlton and the Philadelphia Phillies. Get this—Carlton is now 67 years old.
Moyer outlasted him that day, going 6.1 innings, allowing four earned runs. He picked up the win when the Cubs knocked Carlton out of the game by the fourth inning.
I’m surprised Jamie Moyer ever struck out this many batters in a game. But in a start against the Toronto Blue Jays, Moyer whiffed 13 hitters. It was his first start of the season and his first in a Texas uniform.
Although Moyer wasn’t at his best—allowing four runs and walking three—he was tough to hit. This was probably back when his fastball reached 83-85 miles per hour. Blue Jays leadoff man Lloyd Moseby was his top strikeout victim. Moyer fanned him three times.
This trade revived his career. At this point, he was a 33-year-old pitcher who had struggled to solidify himself as a major league pitcher. Moyer had bounced around, going from the Chicago Cubs to the Texas Rangers to the St. Louis Cardinals to the minor league system of the Detroit Tigers to the Baltimore Orioles to the Boston Red Sox.
It really seemed like he had no chance of making it with any club. After all, he had just 66 career wins and an ERA in the mid-4.00s.
But Moyer went 6-2 with a 3.31 ERA down the stretch for the Mariners, the start of a decade-long stretch of success for Moyer in Seattle. Coupled with the 7-1 mark he posted for the Red Sox before he was traded, Moyer’s .813 winning percentage that season led the American League.
Moyer established himself as a star in the late '90s, winning 17, 15, and 14 games with the Seattle Mariners. He was 15-9 with a 3.53 ERA during the 1998 season, posting career highs in innings pitched (234.1), strikeouts (158), strikeout-to-walk ratio (3.76) and shutouts (3).
Moyer followed it up in 1999, going 14-8 with a 3.87 ERA in 228 innings pitched. He even finished as high as sixth in the Cy Young award voting that season, earning selection as Seattle’s Pitcher of the Year in each season.
Like a fine wine, Jamie Moyer seemed to get better with age. He won 20 games for the first time at age 38 in 2001, going 20-6 with a 3.43 ERA for a Seattle Mariners club that tied an all-time major league record with 116 wins in the regular season.
Moyer finished fourth in the Cy Young voting, then was at his finest in the postseason, throwing three quality starts for the Mariners. He allowed just four runs in 19 innings, although the Mariners lost the ALCS to the eventual World Series champion New York Yankees.
Jamie Moyer was on fire this month, pitching five times and not allowing runs in four of those outings. He gave up just four earned runs for the entire month of June, pitching 35 innings, which comes out to a 1.03 ERA.
Moyer also had a career-best streak of 24 consecutive shutout innings during the month.
Jamie Moyer won 20 games again in 2003, winning his final four starts to become the oldest pitcher in baseball history to win 20 games in a single season. Moyer also earned his first—and only—All-Star appearance that season.
Anyone who knows anything about Jamie Moyer knows he and his wife, Karen, are extremely charitable people who love to give back to the community through the Moyer Foundation. Jamie Moyer was honored with multiple awards in 2003 and 2004, winning the Roberto Clemente, Branch Rickey, Hutch and Lou Gehrig awards.
After a dismal 2004 season in which he was 7-13 with a 5.21 ERA and a league-leading 44 home runs allowed, Jamie Moyer’s career appeared to be nearly over. He was 42 years old and coming off probably his worst season as a pro.
Moyer rebounded in ’05 to go 13-7 with a 4.28 ERA, posting nearly identical numbers in innings pitched and strikeout-to-walk ratio but dropping his home runs allowed from 44 to just 23.
The Seattle Mariners haven’t had a particularly strong franchise, but this was a milestone moment for Jamie Moyer. He surpassed Randy Johnson as the franchise’s all-time winningest pitcher, winning his 131st career game.
Moyer threw six strong innings in the contest, allowing just one run.
This was one of the greatest moments of my life as a Philadelphia sports fan, as the team acquired Jamie Moyer in a trade, bringing the local Souderton, Pa., pitcher to his closest city.
Moyer won his first start in a Phillies uniform and went 5-2 with a 4.03 ERA in eight starts down the stretch, playing a prominent role on a team that came close to making the playoffs for the first time since 1993.
At the beginning of the season, Jamie Moyer faced off against Tom Glavine in the matchup of the oldest lefties (44 years each) ever. A month later, Moyer faced Randy Johnson and the pair broke the record for the oldest matchup of lefties.
In that game, Moyer outlasted Johnson, going seven innings and allowing three runs compared to six innings and three runs for Johnson.
Jamie Moyer was on the mound for the NL East-clinching victory against the Washington Nationals, pitching a gem in the final game of the season. The Philadelphia Phillies entered the contest tied with the New York Mets for the division lead. Moyer excelled for 5.1 innings, giving up just an unearned run. Meanwhile, the Mets' Tom Glavine was shelled for seven runs in the first inning and the Phillies ended up winning the division.
In his lone postseason start against the Colorado Rockies, he threw six superb innings, allowing just one earned run.
This is a true testament to Jamie Moyer’s longevity. He defeated the Colorado Rockies, meaning he had defeated every team in the big leagues at least once. In this outing, Moyer threw seven innings, striking out seven batters, as the Philadelphia Phillies won 20-5.
Later that season, he became the oldest active player in baseball, the oldest Phillie to ever get a hit and the second-oldest pitcher to win as many as 16 games in a single season.
The Philadelphia Phillies headed to the postseason in 2008 with Jamie Moyer as their No. 3 starter behind Cole Hamels and Brett Myers.
In the third game of the NLDS against the Milwaukee Brewers, Moyer, at nearly 46 years old, became the oldest National League pitcher to start a postseason game.
This was the greatest moment of my life as a Philadelphia sports fan, as the Phillies finally won the World Series. Jamie Moyer was roughed up a bit in his first two postseason starts, but threw a strong outing against the Tampa Bay Rays in Game 3 of the Fall Classic, despite pitching through a severe stomach virus.
He pitched into the seventh inning, allowing three runs, in a game the Phillies would eventually win on Carlos Ruiz’s walk-off infield single in the bottom of the ninth inning.
Remember how in the World Series parade Moyer revealed he had played hooky from Souderton High School back in 1980 to attend the Phillies’ parade? How can you not love a guy like that?
After the 2006 season, the Philadelphia Phillies signed the 44-year-old Jamie Moyer to a two-year contract extension. He responded by winning 30 games in the next two seasons and helping the Phillies win two NL East titles and a World Series ring.
He was then rewarded with another two-year contract extension, this one after the ’08 season. This locked Moyer up for 2009 and 2010, keeping Moyer in a Phillies uniform until he was nearly 48 years old.
In the 2009 season, Jamie Moyer struggled. His ERA was 8.15 as late as May 13 and 5.47 in the middle of August when he was finally demoted to the bullpen.
The Philadelphia Phillies had rookie J.A. Happ tearing it up and free-agent signee Pedro Martinez enjoying an impressive second half of the season, so Moyer really wasn’t needed in the rotation.
What was impressive, though, was his first relief appearance. He threw an unbelievable six scoreless frames, allowing just two hits and no walks while striking out five in a 5-1 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Against the Atlanta Braves, Jamie Moyer—who was 47 years old—threw a two-hit shutout with no walks, absolutely baffling the Braves for nine innings. He became the oldest pitcher in major league history to throw a complete game shutout and the first to throw a shutout in four different decades.
Later in the season, Moyer became the third MLB pitcher to win 100 games after his 40th birthday—an absolutely remarkable feat.
When Jamie Moyer missed the last several months of 2010 and all of 2011 rehabbing from Tommy John surgery, I figured he was definitely done.
I was wrong.
Moyer rebounded to sign a minor league deal with the Colorado Rockies, a team that didn’t exist when he began his career, and actually make the major league roster out of spring training. Moyer even began the season as the No. 2 starter.
Jamie Moyer lost his first two starts with the Colorado Rockies, but won the third one, tossing seven strong innings against the San Diego Padres. He didn’t give up any earned runs and lowered his season ERA to 2.55, becoming the oldest pitcher in the history of the major leagues to get a win.
This could be the last big highlight of Jamie Moyer’s career, unless, of course, he signs with another team and prolongs his career.
Moyer pitched in his 50th career ballpark in 2012, doing so when he threw against the Miami Marlins in Marlins Park. This is the most ballparks any pitcher has appeared in since 1900.
While he's never been known as a hitter, Jamie Moyer became the oldest player in major league history to drive in a run, hitting a two-run single on May 16th in a 6-1 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks.
He was older than Julio Franco, Omar Vizquel and even Rickey Henderson.
When Jamie Moyer finally does decide to hang it up, he'll leave behind a wonderful career. He won 269 games, pitched more than 4,000 major league innings and struck out nearly 2,500 hitters.
He made an All-Star team, won more games after the age of 40 than most pitchers win in their careers and helped deliver a World Series championship to his home city of Philadelphia.