Colorado Rockies pitcher Jamie Moyer made headlines last week when, at 49 years old, he became the oldest pitcher to win a major league game. Also of note in his start against the San Diego Padres was that Moyer’s fastball topped out at 78 mph.
The Fort Myers Miracle, the Class-A affiliate of the Minnesota Twins, took note of both those facts and decided to have a little fun at Moyer’s expense. During the Miracle’s game last Thursday, they put on a promotion where fans could win a free ticket to an upcoming game if they could throw harder than Moyer.
“I’m a big fan of Jamie Moyer. It’s an incredible feat, but people were sitting around going, ‘Gosh, he’s only throwing 78 mph,’ ” said Gary Sharp, the Miracle’s director of media relations and promotions. “I think some people look at the majors and they see guys throwing 90 and above, and they think 78 is super slow. But not a lot of people can throw 78 if they’re not baseball players.”
In fact, none of the roughly 85 fans who attempted the feat for $1 per three throws could equal Moyer’s 78 mph. Sharp said the closest anyone got was a fan in his mid-20s who spent around $50 trying to beat the mark but topped out at 76 mph.
“He kept trying over and over and over, and that’s as high as he could get,” Sharp said. “He got more and more frustrated because his buddies that were with him were heckling him pretty good that he couldn’t throw harder than a 49-year-old man.”
Moyer pitches again Tuesday night for the Rockies against the Pittsburgh Pirates. The Miracle, meanwhile, plan to continue the promotion throughout their season, including Wednesday at Hammond Stadium during a game against the Palm Beach Cardinals.
“We’re going to keep it going,” Sharp said. “We’re just having fun with it. It’s interesting. People say they can’t believe that 78 mph is that hard to achieve.”
Moyer, who began his big-league career in 1986 with the Chicago Cubs, has been active in the community during his 25 years in the majors. In 2000, he and his wife, Karen, established The Moyer Foundation, which helps children in distress.
Sharp hopes that, as silly as the Miracle’s promotion is, perhaps the team can help The Moyer Foundation as a result.
“I’d like to somehow tie into Jamie and his wife; they have a big charity,” Sharp said. “Maybe if we raise enough money through this, we might be able to help out their charity.”
For now, however, fans will keep lining up to attempt to better the seemingly slow 78-mph fastball of Moyer. Fortunately for the Miracle, they haven’t had any 49-year-olds attempt it just yet.
“I’m probably glad they don’t because we’d have some people waking up the next morning with sore arms,” Sharp said. “Most of the people on that night were people that were either younger, they were baseball players or they were aspiring to be baseball players. Or just showing off.”