Considering advancements in medicine, coaching techniques, and the emergence of biomechanical data, this seems counterintuitive. Yet the reason behind the vanishing over-40 pitcher is no secret. By emphasizing velocity, baseball’s prevailing game theory has turned pitching from a series of distance races into a series of sprints. The well-paced marathoner – the master of the complete game – has become less valuable than ever.John knows this. He doesn’t like it.Pitchers, he said, “can try to go on and pitch longer, or pitch the way the general managers and the techies want them to pitch – the Yalies, the Harvard guys and all that.”“The owner of the team looks at the bottom line: did we make money this year? You go from there,” John continued. “I’m a bottom-line pitching guy. I want to see wins. I don’t watch baseball anymore. It’s not the same game I played. The game’s changed. The players in it have changed. … I don’t think they appreciate the game and respect the game for what they’ve got. They’ve got a rare talent. They don’t respect it. I don’t like to see it.”Moyer, who retired midway through the 2012 season, holds a more agnostic view.“The sabermetrics have changed the game,” he said. “I’m not affiliated with an organization and I don’t know a lot about it. I’m not here to condone it, but it’s different. There’s a way for all of it to work together.”Unlike John, Moyer said he gladly watches baseball at home.“What the Milwaukee Brewers did last season was fantastic,” he said. “The starting rotation was probably their weakest link. The bullpen was one of their stronger links. I thought (Manager) Craig Counsell did a fabulous job with what he had. When you get into the playoffs, you don’t need five starters; you only need three or possibly a fourth. Their bullpen was so strong, so dominant, and it got them almost to the World Series. They did it a lot differently than how we’re used to seeing baseball being played.”By 2018 standards, John and Moyer were extreme finesse pitchers. They concede their careers are products of a bygone era, the relics of a dying trend. While it’s accurate to ascribe their longevity to when and how they pitched, it’s unfair to their perseverance.John wasn’t ready to retire in May 1989. After he was released by the Yankees, John said he tried hooking on with a handful of teams to no avail. Not once, he said, did he look around and wonder what he was doing on the same field as men half his age.“I loved playing baseball. That’s why I kept playing it as long as I did,” John said. “I loved competing. I loved it. That’s why I had Tommy John surgery. I asked Dr. Jobe if I needed it. He said, ‘no you don’t need it, but if you don’t have it you’ll never pitch again.’ It wasn’t that I was making $15 million. I wanted to pitch.”Once, midway through a disappointing 2006 season, Moyer said he resolved to retire at year’s end. That changed when he was traded by the Seattle Mariners to the Philadelphia Phillies in August. He gladly waived his 10-and-5 rights to accommodate the trade to a contending team.Four years later, weeks away from his 48th birthday, Moyer faced another dilemma. He was attempting to rehab his ailing elbow with the Leones del Escogido of the Dominican Winter League. In his third appearance, Moyer said he completely tore the ulnar collateral ligament and flexor pronator tendon in his left elbow.When the Phillies’ team physician offered a recommendation of surgery, Moyer said he went to the late Dr. Lewis Yocum for a second opinion.Related Articles Jose Suarez’s rocky start sinks Angels in loss to Astros “(Yocum) said, ‘look, you tore this thing pretty good’,” Moyer recalled. “‘I can fix it just so you can do some simple things for the rest of your life – golf, play catch – or I can fix it like I would if you’re 25, 30 years old. You’re probably not going to pitch again.’ I said, really? I took that as a challenge.“For me, it was the challenge of getting through the surgery. I only wanted to play if I felt like I could contribute.”Moyer did contribute again, finishing his major league career with the Colorado Rockies at age 49. In his third-to-last start, Moyer tapped a weak grounder between the mound and first base, and eluded the tag of Arizona Diamondbacks first baseman Paul Goldschmidt for a single. Two runs scored on the play, making Moyer the oldest player ever with an RBI.It’s a record he might never concede.“If you look at pitching these days, everything is max effort,” he said. “Look at the younger generations – high school, college, minor leagues, everybody’s trying to light up a radar gun, throw 100 mph. Our bodies aren’t made to perform in this game as a pitcher at max effort.”Not a 49-year-old’s body. Major League Baseball is no country for middle-aged men. Dodgers lose a wild game to the Giants in 11 innings Dodgers’ Will Smith: ‘I feel like it’s been five years’ since his 2019 debut Tommy John is driving south on Interstate 5, somewhere between Bakersfield and the Bay Area, when his cell phone reception cuts out. Our call drops a moment later. I call him back. “This is Gavin Newsom,” says the voice on the other end. I have reached Tommy John’s sense of humor.As a rookie with the 1963 Cleveland Indians, John was teammates with World War II veteran Early Wynn. When John was released by the New York Yankees on May 30, 1989, the Yankees purchased Deion Sanders’ contract from Triple-A the next day. One might say his 26-year career started early and ended in prime time. In so doing, John persevered longer than all but two major league players: Nolan Ryan and 19th-century pioneer Cap Anson. That excludes the 1975 season John missed while recovering from a surgery that now bears his name.I called John because, maybe it’s just me, but it seems his longevity might never be surpassed. The math doesn’t look good. Bartolo Colon, 45, would need to pitch in each of the next five seasons to get to 26. Outfielder Ichiro Suzuki counted off his 27th season of professional baseball last year in Seattle, but only if you include his first nine seasons in Japan.I caught John lamenting the limits of GSM cells while tumbling down the Interstate en route to humble acclaim. The Professional Baseball Scouts Foundation will honor John and 25-year veteran Jamie Moyer with Iron Man awards Saturday at its annual “In The Spirit Of The Game” dinner in Beverly Hills. This token of recognition might too be meager. We might not see another 46-year-old in MLB. Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error Harvard-Westlake alum Lucas Giolito throws no-hitter for White Sox Angels offense breaks out to split doubleheader with Astros “You see ’em all the time,” John said, pausing for effect. “They’re coaches and managers.”Sign up for Home Turf and get exclusive stories every SoCal sports fan must read, sent daily. Subscribe here.“On the field? No,” he continued. “The guys who run the game now are more into the metrics, the spin on your fastball and curveball, the velocity, and as you get older it’s a fact: you start losing speed on your fastball. You just can’t do it. Jamie Moyer, he and I pitched the same way. (Tom) Glavine, (Greg) Maddux, we pitched the same way. You can’t compete at 46 throwing 100-mph fastballs. I could’ve if they let me use steroids.”Major league players lost their hall pass to the PED aisle in increments over a decade. Pitchers now strategically exchange the complete game for shorter starts featuring faster fastballs – a pitch that averaged 92.8 mph last season. Free agents are aging out of the market ever earlier. Add it up, and it’s easy to understand why the average MLB player age is trending younger.The irony of all this isn’t lost on John. He is less famous for his 26 seasons and 288 wins than a landmark medical procedure. If Dr. Frank Jobe had not replaced the ulnar collateral ligament in John’s left elbow in September 1974, he might have been forced to retire at age 32. Tommy John surgery carried the promise of extending pitchers’ careers – it has – but what John and Moyer accomplished looks less and less likely by the day.Hope for another 26-year career dies in the numbers. Toss out the period in which baseball treated standard drug tests as optional, and the distribution of seasons featuring pitchers over age 40 looks almost random. MLB’s kindest year to over-40 pitchers was 2007. That year, 18 men pitched past their 40th birthday. Next on the list is 2006, with 15. The 1945 season, a year when World War II forced younger men into military service, featured 14 over-40 pitchers. Next is 2008. In fact, of the top 30 seasons on this list, only one (2017) took place after regular-season HGH blood tests were introduced in 2013.