CLEARWATER, Fla. - Jamie Moyer and Charley Kerfeld were on the same field again yesterday.
Moyer was there as a veteran pitcher going through his first workout of the spring. Kerfeld was there as a special assistant to Phillies general manager Pat Gillick.
Kerfeld, 44, shook his head admiringly as he watched the 45-year-old Moyer bounce around the diamond with teammates, some half his age.
"In 1992, Jamie and I pitched against each other in minor-league camp," Kerfeld recalled. "He was with the Iowa Cubs. I was with the Angels' triple-A club. I remember it because we were both released that day.
"Sixteen years later, I have trouble throwing rocks to my dogs in the backyard, and he's still pitching. He's an amazing guy."
It's difficult to argue against that.
As Moyer begins his 22d big-league season, he finds himself wearing an imaginary crown that symbolizes not only his long-standing ability to get hitters out, but also his perseverance and durability. With Roger Clemens' career seemingly over amid allegations of steroid use and Julio Franco without a job, Moyer - a Mr. Clean in a tainted era - becomes the oldest major-leaguer.
"I hope Julio finds a job," he said, laughing.
Moyer actually doesn't mind the distinction. He's been reminded of his age for several seasons. His uniform number - 50 - makes convenient fodder for ribbing.
Is that your age on your back?
"I'm not as proud of the age thing as I am of the ups and downs I've overcome to create some longevity," Moyer said after yesterday's workout. "I've enjoyed that part. I can smile and say I'm doing what I want to do."
Moyer, who made his major-league debut in 1986, recalled the day he was released by the Cubs in 1992. (It actually was the third time in three years that he had been let go.) It took him six weeks to land a job with Detroit's triple-A club. In the interim, his father-in-law, former Notre Dame basketball coach Digger Phelps, encouraged him to scrap the whole baseball thing and take a job with an Indiana company that made recreational vehicles.
Moyer continued to pitch and got back to the big leagues with Baltimore in 1993. He has 196 wins since.
What keeps him going?
"He can hit a fly's ass from 100 yards," Kerfeld said. "That's why he's still pitching."
Staying physically fit and avoiding injury - Moyer was the only member of the Phillies' 2007 season-opening rotation not to spend time on the disabled list - also has been a key. And don't start any of that steroid talk. The only juice this guy puts in his 187-pound body is Welch's grape juice.
"The white kind," he said. "That way it doesn't stain when you spill it."
Moyer has 230 wins, six more than Hall of Famers Jim Bunning and Catfish Hunter. But his accomplishments extend far beyond the field. His charity work has been extraordinary. The foundation he runs with his wife, Karen, has raised more than $10 million for children's charities.
Last summer, Karen and the couple's oldest son, Dillon, went on a mission to Guatemala. They visited an orphanage and became smitten with a little girl named Yenifer. In September, as the Phillies were battling for the National League East title, the Moyers adopted Yenifer, who had some health problems, particularly with her vision. The child, almost 18 months, is spending this week in Clearwater with her six siblings.
"We thought we could bring her to our country and help her," Moyer said. "She spent the first year of her life in a crib, so it's great to see her start walking now. And her eyesight is better than we thought it would be. She's a cool little girl. It's been great for our family."
Though Moyer lives in Seattle, he was raised in Montgomery County, so last year was a homecoming for him. He was the starting and winning pitcher on the final day of the regular season, when the Phils clinched the division by a game.
"What I recall most about that day is the excitement of winning," he said. "That's the reason I play - to be in those situations and that environment. It hasn't happened a lot to me, but when it does, I'm greatly appreciative.
"It was neat to see the city wrap their arms around our team - not only that day, but during the last few weeks of the season. I heard people say, 'You guys brought baseball back to the city.' I take that as a compliment, not only for myself, but for the whole team."
Now that he is the game's oldest player, Moyer knows he will be asked how much longer he'll play. He is in the final year of his contract, so it's a relevant question.
"I really don't know," he said. "Time will tell. All I know is if this is my last year, I'll enjoy it, and if it isn't, I'll enjoy that, too.
"For now, it's day one of spring training, and I had fun out there. Tomorrow is day two, and I'll approach it the same way - get here early, get my work done, have fun."