Nearly 50, baseball's Jamie Moyer defies the odds

Jamie Moyer
In this March 7, 2012, file photo, Colorado Rockies pitcher Jamie Moyer throws to the San Francisco Giants during a spring training baseball game in Scottsdale, Ariz. The number of players in their 40s is shrinking, with 13 quadragenarians in the majors last year, down from an all-time high 26 in 2007.
AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez

(CBS News) - SCOTSDALE, Ariz. - When 49-year-old Jamie Moyer showed up at the Colorado Rockies spring training camp, there were many who doubted he could get back in the baseball game at his age.

"I've had people tell me for years, you know, 'You're too old, you don't throw hard enough, you can't do this, you can't do that,'" Moyer said.

All Moyer wanted was another chance, after losing the 2011 season to an elbow injury that required reconstructive surgery. "Give me an opportunity, allow me to work, allow me to grow, allow me to get better, and you just never know what can happen. And it's turned into this!"

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Moyer not only made the team, but when he starts for the Rockies Saturday night, he could make baseball history as the oldest major league pitcher ever to win a game

"Honestly," Moyer said, "I can look you in the eye and say that I'm not playing this game for records."

Moyer's rookie year can seem like ancient history to teammate Drew Pomeranz. "He debuted in like 1986, something like that. It was probably two years before I was even born. Pretty, pretty cool."

Outfielder Charlie Blackmon says it's not just his age - it's the example Moyer sets. "I'm going to turn 26 this year, and sometimes I feel like I'm getting old, and my body gets old," Blackmon said. "And then I look at him, and I'm like, 'Jeez, I better quit whining, shut my mouth, and go out there and play hard.'"

The crafty left-hander says his secret is simple. "As long as you have an opportunity, you can succeed," Moyer said. "But you have to be willing to put the time and the effort into it."

"He probably works harder than most of us do," Pomeranz said. "He's in here, you know, early in the morning, stretching, doing stuff to get ready every day".

For baseball fans who are turning gray themselves, Moyer's longevity is an inspiration. "To see somebody in that same age group out there still doing what he loves to do, it's awesome," said Paul Webb, 50.

Kyle Boetel, 52, has a collection of Moyer baseball cards that stretch way back. "He's pitched in at least 19 ballparks that no longer exist, he's pitched in all 30 of the current ballparks, and Jurassic Park!"

Moyer knows better than most that it's a demanding season ahead - but he's ready. "You know, if I wouldn't try this, I would always be asking myself, 'Could you have done it,'" Moyer said. "And, you know, right now I'm finding out. ... It's exciting! It's very exciting, and even at 49, I'm excited. I feel like a little kid again."

  • John Blackstone
    John Blackstone

    From his base in San Francisco, CBS News correspondent John Blackstone covers breaking stories throughout the West. That often means he is on the scene of wildfires, earthquakes, floods, hurricanes and rumbling volcanoes. He also reports on the high-tech industry in Silicon Valley and on social and economic trends that frequently begin in the West.