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Moyer's mission

Sports | Jamie Moyer's rise to stardom built a platform for Christian service

Issue: "Obama," Nov. 15, 2008

Long before the Phillies' Jamie Moyer was baffling Rays with changeups on baseball's biggest stage, his professional pitching career was in jeopardy. Seven years after making his Major League debut for the Chicago Cubs in 1986, the soft-throwing southpaw was back in the minor leagues. Teams had released him in each of the previous two seasons, not seeing much in a kid approaching 30 whose fastballs rarely approached 85.

But Moyer is not the quitting type. Over the next 3½ seasons, he gutted his way back onto big league rosters, survived yet another release in 1995, and finally landed in the rotation of a perennial loser out west in Seattle, where everything changed. In a decade-long run with the Mariners, Moyer joined the elite of his craft, twice cracking the 20-win mark for a single season and headlining a five-man rotation in 2001 that helped produce a record--setting 116 victories.

More importantly, the rise to stardom built a platform for Christian service in Seattle. The Moyer Foundation since its inception in 2000 has raised more than $15 million to help kids suffering from disease, abuse, neglect, or any other severe childhood distress. The foundation also created and operates a nationwide network of 18 youth bereavement camps and has recently launched a second network of camps for kids enduring addiction among family members.

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Though traded to the Phillies during the 2006 season, Moyer hasn't stopped his philanthropic initiatives in Seattle. With his wife Karen heading up operations during baseball season, the organization is as active as ever.

Nor has Moyer's pitching dropped off since shipping east. The oldest active player in baseball, slated to turn 46 this month, still confounds hitters with an array of off-speed pitches: slow, slower, and slowest. His "fastballs" top out in the low 80s and his changeups often dip into the 60s, speeds not uncommon in the high-school game. But for a master of location and speed change, overpowering heat has proved unnecessary. Instead, he relies on a spiral notebook of scouting observations he keeps on every hitter he sees-that, and unyielding composure and patience.

Moyer's big-game performances for the Phillies this season stem from that steady approach, the same disposition that kept him in the game 15 years ago. It's perseverance all of Philadelphia can cheer. More than a few thousand kids can celebrate, too.

Houston rebounds

Former NBA guard Allan Houston's attempt at a comeback from three seasons in retirement fell short last month when the Knicks cut him from their training camp roster. But Houston is now in discussions with Knicks management about filling an off-court role with the team. The philanthropist and outspoken evangelical would make a great chaplain.

"We have to be able to take God's perspective," he wrote on his blog two days after the Knicks dashed his dream of a comeback. "What ultimately is our role in life? Is it to please ourselves, or to be used in a way that will make an impact?"

Polling problems

How much do early season college football polls mean? Consider this: Through Nov. 1, 20 different teams had filled the Top 10 slots of the AP poll, 11 different teams had occupied the highest five positions, and five different teams had reached No. 1.

What's more, Alabama, Texas Tech, and Penn State, three teams angling for a national championship, did not all crack the AP's Top 10 until week five of the season.


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