CLEARWATER, Fla. - Jamie Moyer enjoys retirement living - attending his kids' baseball and basketball and soccer games, caddying for his 7-year-old son, cooking on the grill under glorious Florida skies. It's just that he's not ready for it. Not yet, not while there's any chance he still has some baseball left in his 48-year-old body.
"For me, this is all I know," Moyer said last week. "It's the first time in 40 years I haven't been playing baseball at this time of year. I still felt last year that I could compete."
This isn't Brett Favre or Tiki Barber retiring and unretiring. Moyer didn't choose retirement. An injury to his left elbow brought his 2010 season to an end. With his Phillies contract expiring, Moyer decided to pitch winter ball in the Dominican Republic. He reinjured the elbow and opted to have Tommy John surgery in December. He's rehabbing now and expects to begin throwing again by May.
Moyer will take all of 2011 off, then attempt to return for his 25th major-league season in 2012. He'll be 49.
If that sounds somewhere between quixotic and delusional, well, don't worry. Moyer is driven to try this. He understands the odds. But he sounds very realistic about it, too.
"Will a year make a difference?" he said. "I don't know. I'll find that out. Health-wise, I feel good. I want to give this a chance and see what happens. If it doesn't work out, so be it. I've had a pretty fun career. I've had a lot of great experiences professionally and with my family. I've been on a world championship team in my hometown.
"So either way, it's a win for me."
Moyer certainly has enough to keep him busy. He and his wife, Karen, have adopted two 4-year-old girls. They joined a family that already included six kids ranging from 6 to 19. The oldest, Dillon, is playing baseball at UC-Irvine. Last week, Moyer flew from his Bradenton home to Seattle, where his charitable foundation's main office is located (for now), then swung down to Southern California to see Dillon play.
"He's getting some opportunity to play as a freshman, which is exciting," Moyer said. "He's also going to get an opportunity to play in the Cape Cod League this summer, which is a pretty challenging summer league."
Much of the Moyers' time is taken up with expansion plans for Camp Erin, the bereavement camps they created for young people who have lost a close family member. This year, the Moyer Foundation is opening four camps dedicated to the children of military families who have suffered a loss.
"We probably don't think about [Iraq and Afghanistan] as much now, because it's not followed as closely on the news," Moyer said, "but as of a couple of years ago, every day there was a tragedy or a handful of tragedies. Those tragedies have created a large number [of casualties], and a large number of those people have left people behind.
"We talk about helping the soldiers that come back from war, and that's pretty awesome. But there's also family and extended family that are affected. We reached out to the USO and TAPS, and we're creating these camps where children can express and relate to each other and deal with their grief. And remember their loved ones in a positive way."
Moyer was moved by the fund-raising efforts of a school in Downingtown, where the kids raised about $12,000 for Camp Erin with a coin drive.
"That's huge for us," he said.
He and Karen are moving the main Moyer Foundation office to Philadelphia this year, too. They plan to hire a new national director, as well as stage a fund-raising event at Citizens Bank Park in May. The Moyers are also planning to open four Camp Mariposas, which serve children whose lives are affected by substance abuse in their families.
"It's really special to see how this has caught on," Moyer said. "By next year, we hope to have a camp in every major-league city. Leaving a legacy on the field is pretty cool. But to leave a legacy like this, in the major-league cities where I've played, Karen and I both feel honored by that."
Ultimately, though, he's a baseball player. He talks with equal enthusiasm about winning that ring, and watching his teammate Nolan Ryan record his 300th victory in 1990, and being part of a Seattle team that won 116 games in 2001.
"That's a lot of baseball games to win," Moyer said. "I've read clippings where the Phillies of 2011 have been asked questions about, do you think you can do that? And the sky's the limit. They potentially could. But I'll tell you what, it was a pretty magical thing."
Baseball is a way of life. It's Moyer's way of life. It's hard to fault him for wanting to hang on to it as long as he possibly can.
"Just being able to play as long as I have, for me, is pretty magical," Moyer said. "I never expected to have the length of career that I've had."
It has been a remarkable ride. Most remarkable of all, it may not be over yet.
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