Old timers' day: record 7 40-year-olds to start Wednesday
By ROB MAADDI, AP Sports Writer
June 27, 2007
PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- Break out the Geritol, Ensure and Bengay.
It really will be old-timers' day in the major leagues on Wednesday, when a record seven pitchers in their 40s are scheduled to start.
The New York Yankees' Roger Clemens (44), Philadelphia's Jamie Moyer (44), Detroit's Kenny Rogers (42), San Diego's Greg Maddux (41), the New York Mets' Tom Glavine (41), Houston's Woody Williams (40) and Atlanta's John Smoltz (40) are set to pitch on the same day.
The previous record of six was set last Friday, according to the Elias Sports Bureau, when all but Clemens started.
"I guess it means it's not a kid's game anymore," Maddux said. "It means the doctors are better now. The strength and conditioning coaches are better. Weight training in baseball didn't really start until the late 80s, early 90s. There weren't even weight rooms in baseball when I first came up. Now everybody has one."
Of the seven pitchers, Clemens has the most victories at 349. He's also got the biggest paycheck, earning a prorated $17,442,637 this season after signing a one-year contract worth $28,000,022 on May 6.
"Roger's remarkable," Yankees manager Joe Torre said. "The hunger's still there. The enjoyment of the game is still there, and the love of competition is still there."
Maddux is next behind Clemens with 339 victories. Glavine is four away from No. 300. Moyer has 223 followed by Rogers (208), Smoltz (201) and Williams (127). Smoltz, who beat Glavine and the Mets for his 200th victory last month, is the only pitcher in major league history with 200 wins and 150 saves.
"There are days when I don't feel as energetic as maybe I did 10 years ago," Glavine said. "I probably don't enjoy running the bases when I get a hit like I did 10 years ago, but the rest of it, I don't really feel there's been a drop-off in the things that I want to do. I still feel like I can do everything I want to do as a pitcher."
Clemens and Smoltz are the hardest throwers among the group, still able to hit 90 mph with their fastball. Rogers had better heat in his younger days. Maddux, Glavine, Moyer and Williams have always relied on offspeed pitches, pinpoint control and outthinking batters.
"It's actually nice just to be mentioned with those guys," Williams said.
Rogers, who just returned to the Tigers' rotation after shoulder surgery in the offseason, also credits modern medicine.
"It's all about the doctors," he said. "The trainers have gotten better, but the biggest difference is everything they can fix these days. Pitching isn't about age, it is about intelligence, so there's nothing hard about pitching into your 40s, as long as they can keep fixing the problems."
Former players wish some of those medical advancements had been implemented sooner.
"When I was pitching, they were hoping to pitch past 30," said Braves pitching coach Roger McDowell, a star reliever with the Mets and Phillies in the late '80s and early '90s. "You always hear older pitchers say, 'I wish I'd known when I first started out what I know now."'
Moyer is a major reason the Phillies are still in the NL East race, despite losing two starters and both of their closers to injuries. The left-hander is 7-1 with a 2.83 ERA in 10 starts after Philadelphia loses. He's also been a strong influence on 23-year-old Cole Hamels, who has become the staff ace in just his second season.
"He absolutely amazes me," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said. "He's a true professional. He prepares hard and he has a lot of determination."
The seven semi-seniors have combined for 1,743 career wins, 42 trips to the All-Star game and 14 Cy Young Awards. And they're not the only 40-year-olds in rotations: Arizona's Randy Johnson (43) is on the disabled list, and San Diego's David Wells (44) and the Mets' Orlando Hernandez (41) are slated to have the night off.
"What it says is that these guys all have tremendous mechanics and the gift of a natural arm stroke that has enabled them to pitch all these years," said San Diego Padres manager Bud Black, who won 121 games in his career. "They have a work ethic and a passion to continue playing."
While huge contracts are certainly an incentive to stay active, many do it simply because they love the game.
"It's better than being home doing nothing," said Braves coach Eddie Perez, who was Maddux's personal catcher for a few years in Atlanta. "I wish I were healthy and could still play. I'm happy for them. They take care of themselves. Everybody knows how hard Roger Clemens works. So does Smoltz. So does Glavine, Randy Johnson. All those guys."
AP Sports Writers Josh Dubow in San Francisco, David Ginsburg in Baltimore, Bill Konigsberg in New York and Paul Newberry in Atlanta, and freelance writers Dave Hogg in Detroit and Joe Totoraitis in Milwaukee contributed to this report.