On June 16, 1986, Jamie Moyer took to the mound in a Chicago Cubs uniform for his major league debut against future Hall-of-Famer Steve Carlton. And the 23-year-old left-hander collected his first win. More than a quarter century later on April 17 of this year, now with the Colorado Rockies, Moyer earned victory No. 268 of his career at age 49, becoming the oldest pitcher in major league history to register a win.
Moyer shows little sign of stopping anytime soon. Despite undergoing Tommy John surgery on his throwing arm after the 2010 season, he has emerged this year as a dependable cog in Colorado's starting rotation. His ERA is among the best in baseball, even though his velocity is the worst. Moyer was never known for a blistering fastball, but age and surgery have relegated his top speed to just 78 miles per hour. A minor league team in Ft. Myers, Fla., runs a promotion that gives fans the chance to win free tickets if they can best Moyer on the radar gun.
So how does the aging veteran get it done? Moyer uses five distinct pitches, locating each precisely and using a variety of speeds-slow, slower, and slowest. He stays one step ahead of hitters, knowing that a 78 miles per hour fastball feels like pure heat in the wake of a 60 miles per hour changeup. He is a testament to the power of guile and an inspiration to aging athletes everywhere. The No. 50 that has long adorned the back of his uniform might soon serve as a badge of longevity. Moyer's birthday is Nov. 18.
In 1909, Arthur Gore was the Wimbledon men's singles champion at age 41, still the oldest player ever to win a major tennis tournament.
In 1912, Oscar Swahn won an Olympic gold medal at age 64 as a member of Sweden's running deer single-shot team. He won a silver medal eight years later in a similar team event at age 72.
In 1932, pitcher Jack Quinn won a major league game just two months after his 49th birthday, a record before Moyer motored past it this spring.
In 1948, Satchel Paige became the oldest rookie in major league baseball at age 42.
In 1965, Sam Snead won the Greater Greensboro Open at age 52 years and 10 months, becoming the oldest player ever to win a PGA Tour event.
In 1980, Gordie Howe scored the final goal of his storied NHL career at age 52 for the Hartford Whalers, a stunning 34 years after his NHL debut in 1946.
In 1997, longtime Boston Celtics center Robert Parish played a reserve role for the Chicago Bulls and managed to crack the starting lineup on three occasions. His final start set the record for age at 43 years and 118 days.
In 2004, Martina Navratilova became the oldest player to win a professional singles tennis match when she cruised to a straight sets victory in the first round at Wimbledon at age 47 years and eight months.
In 2007, Vinny Testaverde led the Carolina Panthers to a 31-14 victory over the San Francisco 49ers, becoming the oldest starting quarterback to win an NFL game at 44 years and 19 days.