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Jamie Moyer declares he’s not retired, then tells a golden David Justice story

Jul 18, 2012, 3:15 PM EDT

Colorado Rockies v Pittsburgh Pirates Getty Images

Please forgive if you’ve already heard this story — it’s new to me, although there is a similar one in Michael Lewis’ book Moneyball. Jamie Moyer is in Tahoe for the American Century Celebrity Golf Championship — the closest thing to an active MLB player you’ll see here, since the tournament is held every year in July. Moyer, 49, who was waived by the Blue Jays earlier this month, told a story to the assembled press this morning about pitching to David Justice, who is also playing at Tahoe:

Moyer:

“David Justice and I have a great story that goes back a few years when he was with Cleveland and I was with Seattle. We were up pretty big, and it was like the sixth or seventh inning, and he kept fouling balls off. Good at-bat we both had going. I finally got tired of it.

“I threw a pitch, he fouled it off. So I walked towards home plate. I said: ‘David, what do you want?’ He looks at me like I’m crazy. He goes, ‘A fastball.’ I go ‘Okay, here it comes.’ I went back, threw a fastball, and he hit a home run.

“He laughed all the way around the bases, but the at-bat was over and I moved on. We ended up winning the game. So we joke about that, yeah. We have fun with that.

Moyer is already the oldest player in MLB history to record a win, and the oldest to get an RBI. But will he throw a pitch in an MLB game at age 50?

“I’m not retired, I’m not retired. I’m just kind of laying in the weeds and just trying to figure out what’s going on,” Moyer said. “I’m just going to step back after the season and assess what’s going on, and see how I feel and go from there.”

  1. mybrunoblog - Jul 18, 2012 at 10:25 PM

    Moyer also grooved one for Mickey Mantle back in the 60s.

    • natstowngreg - Jul 19, 2012 at 12:02 PM

      Wasn’t he pitching for the Cubs when Babe Ruth (allegedly) called his homer in the 1932 World Series?

  2. skids003 - Jul 19, 2012 at 8:09 AM

    Yet he accuses Chipper of stealing his signs.

  3. whyilovecomics - Jul 19, 2012 at 10:43 AM

    Fun story, but it might not be wholly true.

    Here’s a list of all the at-bats where Moyer and Justice met up:

    http://www.thebaseballcube.com/tools/play.asp?Batter=justd001&Pitcher=moyej001

    The only time Justice hit a home run off Moyer was 8/27/88, in the third at-bat of a game that ended 10-4. It was the bottom of the 6th inning, with the score 5-3 (the solo shot made it 5-4). The Mariners didn’t really open up the game until the 8, when they scored 4 more runs.

    So while Moyer was probably tired- he threw 116 pitches over 6 innings- the game wasn’t out of reach at that point. I doubt he’d willingly throw up a gopher ball just to get Justice to go away when the game margin was only 2 runs.

    Still, I love Jamie Moyer.

  4. gammagammahey - Jul 19, 2012 at 11:52 AM

    Between this and the anecdote in Moneyball, seems like something Moyer might have made a habit of to try and get in hitters’ heads.

    The Moneyball excerpt:

    But none of those first three at bats stuck in Hatty’s mind like the fourth. The fourth and final time he came to
    the plate, Moyer teased him with pitches on the edge of the strike zone and quickly got ahead 0-2. The next
    four pitches were either balls Hatty took or strikes he fouled off, because he couldn’t do anything more with
    them. Six pitches into the at bat, with the count 2-2, Jamie Moyer walks off the mound. He actually says
    something to Hatty, and stands there, as if waiting for an answer.

    This is new. Hatty’s at bats, inevitably, are conversations, but the non-verbal kind. The pitcher isn’t supposed
    to stop in the middle of the game for a sociable chat. “I’d never had a pitcher talk to me while I was in the
    batter’s box,” he says. With Moyer just standing there, refusing to budge, Hatteberg steps out of the box:

    “What?” he shouts.

    “Just tell me what you want,” says Moyer wearily.

    Hatty shrugs, as he doesn’t know what to say.

    “Tell me what you want and I’ll throw it,” says Moyer.

    Hatty was always having to make a guess about what was coming next. His ability to do it depended on his
    knowing that the pitcher was trying to fool him. This more straightforward approach made him uneasy. It
    screwed up some inner calculation, threw him off-balance. He didn’t feel comfortable. For once, he couldn’t
    think of anything to say. And so he didn’t say anything. He didn’t want to know. He preferred to stick with his
    approach.

    On the next pitch Moyer throws a change-up and Hatteberg hits right back at him. Just another out—and yet
    it wasn’t. He did what he did so quietly that the market in general never perceived the value in it.

  5. natstowngreg - Jul 19, 2012 at 12:06 PM

    I want Jamie Moyer to pitch in the Majors when he’s 50. No rational reason, just think it would be one of the coolest things I’ve seen in more than a half-century of being a baseball fan.

    That makes me old enough to have seen Hoyt Wilhelm pitch for the White Sox at almost 50; read reports of Minnie Minoso playing a few games for the same White Sox in his 50s; as well as Satchel Paige pitching for the Kansas City A’s at age 65 (give or take 5 years).

  6. jon623 - Jul 19, 2012 at 3:30 PM

    Jamie has literally been pitching for four years longer that I have been alive. Unbelievable. It’s truly an impressive feat for any player to have that kind of longevity, let alone a pitcher, and even more so a pitcher without any dominating stuff. His career is a testament to perseverance and knowledge of the game.