National | Sports

Issue: "Bush: Holding the line," June 5, 2004

Golden oldies

In the battle of the ages, the fogies are winning. Or at least that's the trend in major-league baseball where a 40-year-old pitcher tosses a perfect game, a 41-year-old is on pace for the Cy Young award, and an outfielder who turns 40 in July is still the most feared hitter in the game. In baseball, 40-year-olds are supposed to be retired or earning their stripes in baseball management. But try telling that to Randy Johnson, Roger Clemens, Barry Bonds, or any of the 11 major-leaguers over 40.

"If people didn't write that someone was 40 years old and they were so shocked and surprised that someone was doing well, it wouldn't be that big of a deal," said Mr. Johnson, who last month became the oldest man to throw a perfect game. "Is anybody inspired by what I'm doing or Roger Clemens? I suppose they are, but why, I don't know."

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Perhaps it was the Arizona left-hander's 98-mph fastball that blew past Eddie Perez for the final strike of his perfect game and the 117th pitch of the night. He threw it just as hard as he would have 10 years ago. Time has touched only Mr. Johnson's aching back, not his arm.

Unlike Mr. Johnson, Roger Clemens doesn't throw as hard as he used to throw. But the Houston ace still has enough pop in his fastball to start the season 7-0 and make him a prime contender for baseball's highest pitching award. Unlike NFL quarterbacks who often only understand the game once their bodies start to break down, some baseball players are finding their gray years to be their golden years.

And the beat goes on

Randy Johnson and Roger Clemens aren't the only 40-year-olds dominating the major leagues:


Julio Franco, 45: Atlanta

Mr.Franco may be even older than 45, but his over .285 batting average is still impressive.

John Franco, 43: N.Y. Mets

Tommy John surgery two years ago could have ended Mr. Franco's career, but he's back and getting outs.

Edgar Martinez, 41: Seattle

So what if Mr. Martinez has only started three games in the field this decade. The Seattle DH can still muscle out enough doubles to earn his keep.

Jamie Moyer, 41: Seattle

Nobody has made more of a career out of a low-80s fastball and some junky curveballs than Mr. Moyer.

Terry Mulholland, 41: Minnesota

Mr. Mulholland seems to have replaced Jesse Orosco as baseball's bionic left-handed middle reliever.

Barry Larkin, 40: Cincinnati

Mr. Larkin has done something even more impressive than his near .300 average: kept the Reds in contention.

Needs to hang it up:

Fred McGriff, Rickey Henderson

Neither could land a big-league job during spring training, but both are pursuing home-run marks. Mr. McGriff needs just nine more for his 500th homer. Mr. Henderson needs just three to reach 300.

Around the horn

Martina Navratilova's comeback as a singles player hasn't fared so well. The tennis legend was defeated 6-1, 6-3 by a 19-year-old in the opening round of the French Open. The match was the 47-year-old Ms. Navratilova's first singles contest in a major in a decade.

It didn't take long for a marketing ploy to turn into a disaster. Jaguar Racing placed a diamond worth $322,000 in the nose cone of its Formula One racer competing at Monaco. When the 20-year-old driver crashed on the first lap, the diamond was lost. Jaguar says it doesn't expect anyone to return the 108-carat gem.

Even though NHL player Mike Danton has been accused of seeking a hitman to kill agent David Frost, the two are still on speaking terms. In fact, Mr. Frost has visited Mr. Danton in jail and talked with him for over 16 hours. Mr. Danton will remain in jail until his trial is over.

Six former Rice University football players have said they were taken regularly to strip clubs and given alcohol while they were still high-school recruits. Rice's coach and athletic director say they knew nothing about where players might have taken recruits.


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