Saturday, May 30, 2009

Jamie Moyer: A Lesson in Persistence That We Can All Learn From

When I was a kid, I was the biggest baseball fan out there. I collected all the cards and knew just about every baseball player in the majors. I use to have my friends pick up a random card and name the player. Without hesitation, I could tell you his position, team, race, and some sort of statistics. While I know longer have that sort of grasp I had on the game in the mid 80's, I still remember a player named Jamie Moyer.

Jamie Moyer came into Major League Baseball in 1986. If you would have asked me in 1986 about him - I'm sure I would have told you the following:

1) He is a pitcher
2) He plays for the Cubs
3) He is white
4) He has a high E.R.A. and he is not that good

I would have been right about everything, except number #4 on my list. Well, let's just say #4 is half right...

Jamie had a rough go at it early in his career. This culminated in him being released in 1990 by the Texas Rangers. I can hardly blame the club. He had career record well below .500 and a lifetime E.R.A. that hovered close to 5.00.

Next year (1991), it got worse. His record was 0-5 and his E.R.A. was 5.74 with the St. Louis Cardinals. The Cardinals released him in the off season. He was then signed and released again by both the Cubs & Tigers in 1992 season. Jamie never even got to play a game that year in the majors.

At this point in his career, Jamie was 30 years old. Retirement had to seem at hand. He had his chance, his time should have been over.

But instead, this is where the story of persistence starts...

Jamie was signed by the Orioles in 1993 (for a 50% pay cut compared with his 1990 salary) and had a record of 12-9 with an E.R.A. of 3.43. Not only was this his best season, but it marked a year that justified him staying the majors. The 1994 & 1995 were mediocre seasons for Jamie, but he again pitched well enough to stick around.

In 1996, Jamie (at the age of 33) started having the kind of success a MLB pitcher dreams of . He went 13-3 with a 3.98 E.R.A in '96. From then on, he went 17-5 (1997), 15-9 (1998), 14-8 (1999), and 13-10 (2000).

In 2001 (at the age of 38), Jamie had his best season. He went 20-6 with an E.R.A. of 3.43. Jamie even finished #4 that year in the Cy Young Award voting in the American League. For whatever reason, however, he was not voted in as an All-Star.

Jamie didn't quit at that point. He stuck around and had an even better year in 2003, going 21-7 with an E.R.A. of 3.27. Finally, at the age of 40, Jamie made his first Major League Baseball All-Star team. Keep in mind, he had been in the majors since he was 23.

Where is Jamie today? You guessed it, he's still playing in the majors. He's also the last player left who played in the majors in 1986. Yes, he is the oldest man in baseball right now.

More importantly, you should look at his earnings. He could have quit at the age of 30 with slightly over $1,000,000.00 in lifetime earnings. Instead, he hung around long enough to earn another $67,000,000.00 in his career. Not too bad, not too bad at all.

Jamie is also in the top 50 in Major League Baseball history in wins (249) and strikeouts (2274). While currently playing for the Phillies this year, he will celebrate his 47th birthday in November. Whenever he decides to retire, he will be given Hall of Fame consideration.

If you would have asked me in 1986, who will be the only player left from this year (1986) come 2009? - Jamie Moyer would have been the last player I would have guessed. Instead, he gave me one of the best examples I have ever seen in what persistence is all about.

9 comments:

Sunflower Ranch said...

Hi! Thanks for the retrospective on Jamie. Don't forget he was an All-Star for the Seattle Mariners and we still claim him as one of our own, though now he's with the Phillies. I haven't looked it up to confirm, but I think we got him a trade from the Orioles in the mid-or late '90s. We all like to say he played his best with the Mariners -- who can forget that 2001 season? And also, don't forget the good work Jamie does with the Moyer Foundation. He is an outstanding role model for all of us -- whichever MLB team we follow! :D

Ian Brodie said...

Really interesting Will - I wonder what it was that made him decide to continue rather than quitting with still quite a healthy bank balance? Was it passion for the game? A belief in himself and wanting to prove he could make it?

And what sparked his improvement in the 90s?

Ian

From the Author: Will Fultz said...

Update:

Jamie reached a milestone yesterday (Sunday, May 31, 2009) by recording his 250th win. Finally, the baseball writers and historians are starting to take notice.

From the Author: Will Fultz said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
From the Author: Will Fultz said...

Ian,

Thanks for the comment. To be honest, a $1,000,000 in lifetime earnings might not actually be that much when you live the "major league" lifestyle. Nonetheless, I'm not exactly sure what made him stick around. I think his improvement in the 90's was that he learned how to pitch better (i.e. veteran experience). Jamie only throws a fastball around 80 m.p.h., which is a change-up for most pitchers in "the show". He has really good placement. In any case, he certainly has had a wonderful career.

I kept hearing his name these last few years and thought it had to be his son! No way that guy is still around!

Thanks,

Will

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Anonymous said...

who cares if he is white, black or blue?

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