When It Clicked

Jamie Moyer, Philadelphia Phillies

Washington Post baseball reporter Dave Sheinin sits down with 45-year-old pitcher Jamie Moyer to talk about how the self-proclaimed "soft tosser" is still in the league.Editor: CJ Holley/washingtonpost.com
Saturday, May 24, 2008

When it is suggested to Jamie Moyer that he must have thrown harder as a youngster than he does now at the age of 45, the man who epitomizes the term "crafty left-hander" produces from his locker a photocopy of the scouting report written by the Chicago Cubs scout who signed him 24 years ago. Under the heading, "Weaknesses," it reads,"Throws fastball 84 [mph], and occasionally 85-86." Moyer lets those words sink in, then says with a smile, "I haven't changed one bit." The question, then, is how somebody can turn such modest physical gifts into a 23-year (so far) big league career.

"When I got into the game, the average velocity was probably in the mid-80s. So what's the average velocity today -- 90 to 92 [mph]? So right there, I wasn't far below the average. So I was considered maybe average to slightly below average. Many more people got opportunities in that category [back then]. Today . . . the average [velocity] is so high that you're not going to get the opportunity -- because you don't throw 95. Well, you know what? I say phooey on that, because look at the guys [who throw] 95. What's their [career] lifespan? It's minimized.

"There's a lot of us [soft-tossers] . . . in that boat. We've learned how to pitch with whatever we have -- whether we [still] have what we had when we came into the game, or we've lost something off of what we had. We've learned how to pitch. And we've learned how to prepare.

"I don't think you're born with [great command]. It's something that evolves and something you work on. . . . You get your head beat in enough, and you have to learn. And you learn it through experience and coaches. It's like when you go to work . . . if you don't learn, what happens to you? It's feast or famine. It's survival. That's what it comes down to me. It's survival."

-- Interview by Dave Sheinin

© 2008 The Washington Post Company