11 years ago, Jamie Moyer was winning games at 49 years old

April 17th, 2023

was truly a one-of-a-kind pitcher.

Monday marks the 11th anniversary of Moyer becoming the oldest pitcher to record an AL/NL victory. At 49 years and 150 days old, Moyer, then pitching for the Rockies, was the winning pitcher against the Padres on April 17, 2012 and broke the previous record of 49 years and 70 days old held by Jack Quinn of the Brooklyn Dodgers. Moyer’s feat broke a 79-year-old record that will, in all likelihood, not be broken for quite some time, if ever.

Moyer's signature moment is the perfect encapsulation of his unique career. Few pitchers have displayed Moyer's longevity and durability. Moyer pitched for 25 seasons across four decades from 1986-2012. (27 seasons) and (26 seasons) are the only pitchers to have appeared in more seasons. Moyer's 638 career starts are bested only by 15 pitchers in MLB history. When he reached 4,000 innings in 2010, he became the 40th, and most recent, member of that club. In all likelihood, he will be the last pitcher to reach 4,000 innings.

What makes Moyer's career even more fascinating is that he was roughly a league-average pitcher during most of it. Of those 40 pitchers to reach 4,000 innings, Moyer's career 103 ERA+ ranks 39th ahead of only Gus Weyhing (102 ERA+). He had more seasons with a below-average ERA+ (13) than seasons with an above-average ERA+ (12). As a result of his combination of superb longevity and average production, Moyer allowed the third-most earned runs (1,926) in MLB history. No pitcher allowed more home runs (522).

This is the beauty of Moyer's career though. Most pitchers who stuck around as long as Moyer were some of the best pitchers in baseball history. Nolan Ryan is the all-time strikeout king (5,714). Tommy John was one of baseball's best pitchers in the 60's and 70's. (25 seasons) is a recent Hall of Fame inductee who, like John, was a force in the '60s and '70s. (24 seasons) ranks eighth all-time with 139.2 Wins Above Replacement according to Baseball Reference.

What all the pure numbers won't tell you, however, is the huge impact Moyer had on multiple organizations and how beloved he is by those fanbases. Moyer was great in his late-30s for the Mariners when he finished top-six in Cy Young Award voting three times from 1999-2003 and made his only All-Star appearance in 2003. He was inducted into the Mariners Hall of Fame in 2015. Without his Mariners stint, Moyer's career might've been over sooner and looked very different than it does now.

After several losing seasons in Seattle, Moyer contemplated retiring at the end of the 2006 season. When he was traded to the Phillies in August of that year, the Pennsylvania native felt rejuvenated by the club's competitive playoff push (they finished three games back of a Wild Card spot). Instead of retiring, Moyer signed a two-year contract with the Phillies at the end of the season.

Moyer made the most of that decision when he won a combined 30 games with the Phillies from 2007-2008. In 2008, Moyer shockingly pitched to the clip of a 117 ERA+ across 196 1/3 innings in his age-45 season. Only Moyer and have pitched seasons at that advanced of age with at least 150 innings and a 110 ERA+ or better. Moyer's success continued in the playoffs when he threw a quality start in Game 3 of the World Series, one the Phillies would win in five games.

Somehow, Moyer's story doesn't stop there. Following the completion of his 2010 season, Moyer underwent Tommy John Surgery on his throwing arm after experiencing pain pitching in winter ball in the Dominican Republic. At 48 years old, a normal person probably would've hung up his cleats and called it quits. Moyer was not your normal pitcher though; he rehabbed during the 2011 season and planned to come back the following season.

This brings it back full circle to Moyer's signature moment. At 49 years old, Moyer signed a Minor League deal with the Rockies prior to the 2012 season. When the Rockies needed a starting pitcher in their big-league rotation, Moyer was selected and became the oldest starting pitcher to ever make an MLB team's Opening Day roster.

Moyer lost his first two starts of the 2012 season. His third start was the charm; Moyer tossed seven innings of two-run ball (both runs unearned) against the Padres. In the process, he became the oldest pitcher to ever record an AL/NL win. Just for good measure, Moyer beat his own record a month later when he defeated the D-Backs on May 16th, 2012 at 49 years and 180 days old.