Beyond Warner, Ryan, and Howe: The Ageless Come Alive

Jason OlsonContributor IApril 1, 2009

HOUSTON - OCTOBER 15:  Hall of Fame pitcher Nolan Ryan throws out the first pitch before the start of Game Three of the National League Championship Series between the St. Louis Cardinals and the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park on October 15, 2005 in Houston, Texas.    (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Trying to pinpoint the epitome of a 40-something excelling at a high level and not on the juice is a tough task. There will always be Gordy Howe's five-decade-wide career that spanned the conclusion of World War II to the Miracle on Ice in 1980.

He played a few more games later in the '80s and '90s, finally hanging it up after one shift with the IHL's Detroit Vipers in 1997, when he was 69. Yeah you read that correctly 69 years old or 24,840 days old.

During the 1979-80 season was really his final year where he contributed to the team, with 41 points and 42 penalty minutes in 80 games for the Heartford Whalers.

To a lesser extent, what Kurt Warner's accomplished since the late '90s is simply remarkable. Everyone knows the story of how Warner went from a Hy-Vee stock person making $5.50 an hour to dominate the AFL, NFL Europe and his stint with the St. Louis Rams in 1999 to 2001.

His re-reemergence this last season as a top-tier quarterback at 36 who led his team to the Super Bowl is quite remarkable. Take a peak at his stats from 2008: a rating of 96.6 and 4,583 yards are his highest since 2001 (101.4 and over 4,800 yards passing).

Another person to recall is Nolan Ryan, one of the most dominant pitchers of the 20th century. "The Ryan Express" is another player who had a very long and successful career in the big leagues that spanned 27 seasons (1966-1993).

He still holds the career record for strikeouts with more than 5,700, nearly 1,000 K's ahead of Randy Johnson.

Ryan also has more shutouts than anyone with seven and yet, is most notable to my generation who grew up watching baseball in the late 1980s-early '90s for handing out one of best beat downs to then Chicago White Sox star, Robin Ventura in August of 1993, Ryan's final season.

What makes Ryan stand out from the crowd is his ability to toss heat well past 40-years old, where he regularily clocked above the 100 mph mark and after tearing a ligimant with two starts left in the season, he tossed two more pitches with the final clocking in at 98 mph.

Looking ahead to the future, maybe we'll see Johan Santana strike out Dustin Pedroia in Game Seven of the 2025 World Series giving the Mets its first title since way back in 1986, ending Boston's strangle hold on the trophy where they won the last 15-of-20 World Series'.