He was trending on Twitter. Network morning shows were talking about him. Fans in their 40s and early 50s rejoiced. A pitcher winning a big league game at age 49?
Across the country, some enterprising collectors and dealers went to to the deepest recesses of their closets, pulled out their 1987 Jamie Moyer rookie cards and logged on to eBay. They were listing and shoppers were buying. Some, no doubt, weren’t really collectors, just fans who wanted to say they had a card of the oldest pitcher ever to pick up a ‘W’.
The 1987 Topps, Donruss and Fleer sets were produced in massive quantities. The fact that the only player still active from that era was doing his part to elevate their stagnant value was like pennies from heaven. Except Moyer rookie cards still weren’t bringing a lot more than…well…pennies.
Despite the fact that only 134 listings for Moyer rookie cards closed in the last 60 days, the average selling price didn’t move much. One could buy a lot of 150 Moyers including 10 rookie cards for $9.50. A nine card, ungraded lot of 1987 Topps sold–for $3. Even a very rare Moyer from the 1987 Canon set–a Cubs’ giveaway–sold for just $5 not long ago. A signed minor league card from ’93? Five bucks again. There were surprisingly few Fleer Glossy and Topps Tiffany available.
Moyer rookie cards won’t make you rich but they were selling and that is a feat few of any players’ cards from those sets have been able to match over the last few years. There was a small buzz nationally after he beat the Padres 5-3, but at his new home base in Denver, the veteran hurler born during the Kennedy administration is quickly becoming a new Rockies’ hero.
“We have had numerous requests for Moyer cards,” said Mike Fruitman of Mike’s Stadium Sportscards. ” Between being an inspiration to middle aged collectors, and the longtime cardboard love affair with the Rockies in Colorado, we have fielded more than the average amount of calls.”
Becoming the oldest winning pitcher has at least pulled a respected player out of the abyss.
“We have been busy plucking his cards from the common boxes,” said Fruitman.
If you had a lot of Moyer rookie cards and an eBay account you probably made a few bucks after his win over the Padres on Tuesday night–and you probably still can as the baseball world tracks the year’s first big feel good story. For each successive victory, Moyer will re-write the record book.
He’s also entered some interesting territory.
Moyer has now won 268 games in his 24-year career. He has more victories than over two dozen members of the Baseball Hall of Fame including Carl Hubbell, Bob Gibson, Juan Marichal and Whitey Ford–and a lot more than Jim Bunning or Catfish Hunter. His next win will move him past Jim Palmer on the all-time list. He’s also 37th on the career strikeout list with 2,410. It’s very possible he will pass Jack Morris, Don Drysdale and Christy Mathewson on the list.
Some of the career stats are a product of longevity, of course, but can you dismiss a player just because he was good enough and smart enough to pitch in four different decades? STATS Inc. revealed that Moyer has pitched to more than 8% of all hitters in Major League history, one of those crazy baseball facts that makes your jaw drop a little.
If he can make it through this season, get run support and pitch effectively on his rebuilt arm, Moyer could wind up around 20 wins away from 300.
Can he pitch at age 50? If he can win 10 more next year, some will believe he’s deserving of Cooperstown consideration. Go ahead. Tell him it’s impossible.
Right now, you can pick up a graded, authenticated 1987 Jamie Moyer rookie card from Fleer Glossy for $14.99. Ungraded regular edition rookies are less than a buck in bulk. They may never be worth much more than that, but there are far worse conversation pieces to own.