By Bill Francis
A big league baseball fixture for the last quarter century, Jamie Moyer is not occupying a mound this season. Instead, he found himself in Cooperstown and touring the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum on Friday morning.
“Having the opportunity to come here is always special,” said Moyer, whose only other trip came as a child. “As I was walking through, I’m thinking, ‘I have to bring my dad here,’ who is 82 years old. I think he would really enjoy it. But I also have to bring my boys here. Their generation has no idea of the history of the game. And I probably don’t either.
“But having the opportunity to come here brings back a lot of good memories. I looked at some stuff from my career but I also looked at a lot of things from the players of yesteryear. It was just fascinating.”
Among the items from the longtime left-hander’s career in the Hall of Fame archives is a baseball signed by the five starting pitchers from 2003 Seattle Mariners (Moyer, Freddy Garcia, Gil Meche, Ryan Franklin and Joel Pineiro) who didn’t miss a start all season and a cap Moyer wore when he became the oldest pitcher to win a game, the 268th of his career, on April 17, 2012 against the San Diego Padres. At 49 years and 151 days, he passed Jack Quinn, who last won a game for the Brooklyn Dodgers on September 13, 1932.
“It was an honor to have had the opportunity to play major league baseball,” Moyer said. “It was a dream of mine from my childhood years like millions of kids have had. And for that dream to come true, I don’t know if I can really comprehend or put words into what that really means.”
Moyer, now 50, had come back to pitch in last season after missing the 2011 campaign because of Tommy John surgery, which seems apropos because the reason he was in the Cooperstown area was to be the guest presenter at the Cooperstown Shoulder and Elbow Symposium sponsored by the Bassett Shoulder and Sports Medicine Research Institute at Bassett Medical Center – held at the nearby Otesaga Resort Hotel.
As it stands today, Moyer, who outdueled future Hall of Famer Steve Carlton in 1986 in his major league debut with the Chicago Cubs, has spent 25 seasons in the majors and compiled a 269-209 career won-loss record with a 4.25 ERA while striking out 2,441 in 4,074 innings.
But according to Moyer, he has not officially retired from the game.
“I’m not playing,” he explained. “The way I look at it is when I came into the game nobody knew me and I can just walk away from the game. I don’t feel like I need that fanfare. I just had the good fortune to play the game, and the game isn’t about me. It’s about the game of baseball.
“It’s the first time in 42 years that I haven’t played baseball. And it’s a little different. My life is a little different. But I’ve enjoyed my time at home. I get to cook on the grill, I’m able to take kids to school, I’m able to pick them up, I can play some golf … I can do some things that I haven’t been able to do for a long time.”
The busy father of eight children not only runs The Moyer Foundation, whose mission is to provide comfort, hope and healing to children affected by loss and family addiction, but he’s also trying to start a pitching academy in California and is the co-author, along with Larry Platt, of the recently released book, “Just Tell Me I Can’t: How Jamie Moyer Defied the Radar Gun and Defeated Time.”
“If somebody comes knocking on my door with an opportunity in baseball I’ll strongly consider it,” Moyer said. “It just has to fit my life and the situation that I’m living in right now.”
Bill Francis is a Library Associate at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum