Where Does Jamie Moyer Rank Among Over-40 Athletes in Sports History?


Where Does Jamie Moyer Rank Among Over-40 Athletes in Sports History? Is Jamie Moyer one of the best over-40 athletes in the history of professional sports?

The Phillies hurler, who takes on the Red Sox on Friday night at Fenway Park, broke into the big leagues the same year Top Gun premiered (that would be 1986). Over the span of his 24-year career, he has played for the Cubs, Rangers, Cardinals, Orioles, Red Sox (for 23 games in 1996), Mariners and, most recently, the Phillies. 

Moyer's best season came with Seattle in 2001, when he went 21-7 with a 3.27 ERA, finishing fifth in the Cy Young voting and earning his first and only trip to the All-Star Game. 

This year, at the ripe old age of 47, Moyer is 6-5 with a 3.98 ERA — his second-best mark since 2003. But is he performing better at his age than some of the other non-spring chickens who have continued their careers past their 40th birthdays?

Take Nolan Ryan, for example. The Hall of Famer played until he was 46, and over his 27 seasons in the big leagues, he compiled a 3.19 ERA and a 3.07 postseason ERA, appeared in eight All-Star Games and took home seven MVPs and eight Cy Young awards. None of the Cy's or the MVP's came after age 40, but he did earn an All-Star appearance at 42 and came in fifth in Cy Young voting that same year.

Moyer's numbers can't really begin to compare to Ryan's, but there's a reason why Ryan is one of the best to ever play the game — not just one of the best to play the game beyond age 40. 

How does Moyer compete with Boston's very own over-40 phenom?

Tim Wakefield, at 43, is in the midst of his 18th season in the major leagues, his 16th with the Red Sox. Aside from the fact that Wakefield has always behaved as the consummate professional — most notably this season, when he was relegated to mop-up duty in the bullpen before sliding into the rotation when Josh Beckett went down with a back injury last month — his numbers haven't been too shabby, either.

Last season, before falling victim to a back injury of his own, Wakefield was on pace to have perhaps his best season ever, posting a stellar 11-3 record with a 4.31 ERA through July 8. At age 42, Boston's beloved knuckleballer earned his first bid to the All-Star game, and although he was not much of a factor for the second half of 2009, without Wakefield's contributions during the first half the Red Sox rotation would have been a shell of what it was. The veteran provided some much-needed stability and consistency as the team dealt with a multitude of injuries.

In 18 MLB seasons, Wakefield boasts a 4.36 ERA, and, yes, his extended tenure in the majors is due in large part to his trusty old knuckleball. His strategy for longevity, however, doesn't detract from the lasting legacy he'll leave in Boston — strengthened just this week, when he passed Roger Clemens for the franchise lead in innings pitched (2,777).

There are plenty of athletes beyond baseball who have continued to compete past age 40 — Gordie Howe, George Foreman and Dana Torres among them — but how does Jamie Moyer measure up? Is he one of the best to compete after 40, or does he fail to compare to those who came before him?

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