Dan's Dugout: Digging Those Oldies But Goodies • Latino Sports

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Dan’s Dugout: Digging Those Oldies But Goodies

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WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. – This dateline is so much more fun when it’s about baseball instead of politics.

That’s especially true now that we’re past the Icicles of March and days closer to Opening Day.

By the time teams cut rosters to the 25-man limit, only a handful of 40-somethings will remain. But none of them are likely to approach their 50th birthdays while still wearing major-league uniforms.

In fact, only two-dozen men in baseball history have lasted past their 45th birthdays.

Phil Niekro's knuckler gave him longevity

Phil Niekro’s knuckler gave him longevity

They include pitchers Satchel Paige (59) and Jack Quinn (50); Jamie Moyer and Hoyt Wilhelm (49); Phil Niekro and Nick Altrock (48); Nolan Ryan, Jesse Orosco, Charlie Hough, Tommy John, Randy Johnson, and Hod Lisenbee (46); plus position players Charlie O’Leary (58), Minnie Minoso (56), Jim O’Rourke (54); Julio Franco, Arlie Latham, and Hughie Jennings (49); Gabby Street, Deacon McGuire, and Johnny Evers (48); and Jimmy Austin, Sam Thompson, and Dan Brouthers (46).

Altrock, Franco, and Minoso played in five different decades and two-dozen others played in four. But Ryan, who retired in 1993, played longer than anyone else: 27 years.

Questionable birth certificates cast some doubt into the ages listed here.

Warren Spahn pitched at a ripe old age

Warren Spahn pitched at a ripe old age

Paige, for example, might have been as old as 65 when he pitched three scoreless innings for the Kansas City Athletics against the Boston Red Sox in a Charlie Finley publicity stunt on Sept. 25, 1965. Records suggest he was 42 when he broke into the majors with Veeck’s Cleveland Indians in 1948. But birth records have been known to be wrong.

Satch was still pitching when Wilhelm broke into baseball with the old New York Giants. Thanks to his pet pitch, the knuckleball, Wilhelm kept his earned run average below 2.00 for five straight seasons after his 40th birthday.

Moyer, who pitched in the bigs for 25 years, was the oldest man to pitch a complete-game shutout. The lefthanded junkballer was also the oldest man to win a game and the oldest to knock in a run. The only man to pitch shutouts in four different decades, he yielded a record 522 home runs in his long career.

Bartolo Colon speaks English after all

Bartolo Colon’s age doesn’t slow him down

Since pitchers tend to last longer than position players, can Dickey’s knuckleball keep fluttering at age 43? And what about Colon, who spent the winter working out after signing a $12.5 million deal with the Braves? He doesn’t throw hard and he looks thinner this spring (though still suggesting Chris Christie in size and shape).

For those of us who crave Oldies But Goodies, both in music and baseball, the 2017 season should have lots to offer.

Camp notes:

Hot tempers exploded in the World Baseball Classic game between Puerto Rico and Mexico in Guadalajara, causing an eighth-inning delay until the fan fight stopped . . .

Team Israel might have lasted even longer with more Jewish major-

Former MVP Ryan Braun could have played for Team Israel

Former MVP Ryan Braun could have played for Team Israel

leaguers, including Ryan Braun, Ian Kinsler, Kevin Pillar, Joc Pederson, Scott Feldman, and Alex Bregman . . .

Loved the name of the Team Israel mascot: Mensch on the Bench . . .

Phillies ace Jeremy Hellickson has allowed nearly seven earned runs per game this spring . . .

Baltimore is moving slugger Pedro Alvarez, an iron-handed infielder, to the outfield . . .

Seeking to recapture his 2015 MVP form, Brian Harper had home runs on five of his first eight hits this spring . . .

Nationals pitching coach Mike Maddux has discovered that star righthander

Does Stephen Strasburg tip his pitches?

Does Stephen Strasburg tip his pitches?

Stephen Strasburg is tipping his pitches . . .

Michael Wacha, coming off a 2016 shoulder problem, is the first Cardinal pitcher to work five innings in an exhibition game this spring . . .

Fellow Card Lance Lynn, sidelined by Tommy John surgery last summer, looks healthy again . . .

Really? Houston’s Triple-A affiliate has renamed itself the New Orleans Baby Cakes . . .

The World Champion Cubs want to land the 2020 All-Star Game for Wrigley Field . . .

Texas outfielder Josh Hamilton, the 2010 American League MVP, is out til May after arthroscopic surgery on his left knee . . .

San Diego plans to use catcher Christian Bethancourt as a pitcher too . . .

And, speaking of pitchers, ambidextrous Pat Venditte is starting fresh in Philadelphia . . .

After going the complete 2016 season without yielding a home run to a lefthanded batter, Clayton Kershaw saw the streak end when Mike Moustakas connected as the second man up in his fourth start of the spring . . .

Star Houston southpaw Dallas Keuchel, seeking to recapture his 2015 Cy

Houston ace Dallas Keuchel won the AL Cy Young Award in 2015

Houston ace Dallas Keuchel won the AL Cy Young Award in 2015

Young form, threw three scoreless innings in his first exhibition outing . . .

Washington pilot Dusty Baker is one of four managers in major-league history with 1,500 hits as a player and 1,500 wins as a manager. He and Davey Johnson, a previous Nationals manager, are the only pilots to take four different clubs into postseason play.

About Dan Schlossberg

Former AP sportswriter Dan Schlossberg of Fair Lawn, NJ has produced 35 baseball books, including autobiographies of Ron Blomberg, Al Clark, and Milo Hamilton. Also a broadcaster, he is the host and executive producer of Braves Banter and Travel Itch Radio and a contributor to Sirius XM.

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