Jamie Moyer - Baseball’s Ageless Wonder Makes History
Rob Nishihara | Jun 30, 2012, 12:23 p.m.
Unlike some players, whose relationships with the cities in which they play extend no further than wearing a uniform and maintaining a local mailing address, Moyer fully immersed himself in the Seattle community while he was with the Mariners.
In 2000, he and his wife Karen started The Moyer Foundation with a mission to help children in distress. The Moyer Foundation created and funds Camp Erin™, the largest network of free bereavement camps in the country for grieving children and teens; and Camp Mariposa™, a free camp program for children living with addiction in their families with locations in Washington, Indiana, Pennsylvania and Florida.
Moyer’s foundation partnered with Providence Hospice and Home Care in Snohomish County to create Camp Erin. The first Camp Erin was held in Everett in 2002 and was the first of five such camps established in Washington State with nearly 40 locations across the country, including one in every Major League Baseball city.
A year later, as if to cement his connection with the city and one of its favorite sons even further, Moyer’s organization started the Gregory Fund to directly benefit early cancer detection research at the world-renowned Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center on South Lake Union.
“In sports, it’s more than just how you throw the ball. It’s about what kind of life you live off field as well,” said Moyer. “I think being an athlete and an advocate helps send a great message to teammates, opponents and beyond.”
On the field, Moyer won 145 games for Seattle from 1996 to 2006. But it never came easily. Well into his 40’s, he had to train relentlessly and continually find new ways to baffle hitters as his velocity and power ebbed. He had to outthink hitters and believe in his wealth of experience as the great equalizer to keep them continuously off balance and guessing. And Moyer’s resolve to stay ahead of the competition – to not let doubt consume him – was remarkable.
Even a trade from Seattle to Philadelphia late in the 2006 season, did not seem to faze him. In 2008, at the age of 45, he was a key member of the Phillies’ World Championship team, winning 16 games. It looked as if he could go on pitching forever - like a metronome perpetually in synch with the pulse of the game.
However, the human body is a mercurial thing.
Two seasons later, something gave way in his elbow. He had damaged ligaments which ended his year. That winter, he tried to pitch again in the Dominican Republic, and the elbow seemingly went for good.
At the age of 48, his injury required major surgery that would sideline him for the entire 2011 season. If retirement hadn’t claimed him through the conventional aging arc, his tattered elbow certainly would claim him now.
However, a funny thing happened on the way to a gold watch and pension forms. Moyer refused to quit. His extraordinary drive would not allow it.
His grueling rehabilitation pointed toward a single moment – a return to a big league pitcher’s mound. Even after his endless physical climb back, his prospects weren’t particularly good. After all, what Major League team would be willing to take a chance on a 49-year-old pitcher with a surgically reconstructed elbow who hadn’t pitched in 17 months? click for more...