Oldest MLB Pitchers

8 Oldest MLB Pitchers Ever

Baseball is the quintessential American game. Everything about it screams Americana, from the corn dogs, the chants, and the walking concessions man screaming, “get ya’ peanuts!”

The game even has the power to evoke memories and nostalgia for lives some of us never lived. It also happens to be the rare professional sport where age is not as limiting a factor as it would be for games like basketball or football.

That’s excellent news for us, because that means we get to spend more time with the living legends that grace the game and inspire millions of little leaguers across the globe to lace up their cleats and get back out on the diamond.

If home runs are the first thing that comes to mind when you think of baseball, I don’t blame you. But if you’re like me, just as entertaining as a home-run derby is an all-out pitchers’ duel: two men showcasing a monk’s level of concentration, refusing to allow a run score.

So, join me as we take a look at some of the oldest and also the best pitchers to ever make it to “The Show.”

8. Hod Lisenbee

Born: 09/23/1898
Retired: 09/07/1945
Team: Cincinnati Reds
Threw: Right

Hod Lisenbeephoto source: commons.wikimedia.org

Horace “Hod” Lisenbee was a right-handed pitcher who played his last game for the Cincinnati Reds at 46 years old. He had a win-loss record of 37-58, an ERA of 4.81, and 253 strikeouts.

Even more impressive than his strikeout count and earned run average was his record against the mighty New York Yankees. The Yankees in 1927 were infamous for demoralizing pitchers and crushing them like it was tee-ball. This was not the case for the young Rookie, who went 5-1 in his first six matchups against them in his Major League debut.

Did You Know?

Post-career, Lisenbee was a passionate farmer. He spent his remaining days farming on his 800-acre land in Clarksville, Tennessee, raising and selling cattle.

7. Kaiser Wilhelm

Born: 01/26/1874
Retired: 08/21/1921
Team: Philadelphia Phillies
Threw: Right

Kaiser Wilhelmphoto source: commons.wikimedia.org

Irvin Key “Kaiser” Wilhelm was a right-handed pitcher who played his last game for the Philadelphia Phillies at 47 years old. He sported a win-loss record of 56-105, an ERA of 3.44, 444 strikeouts, and a winning percentage of .352.

Wilhelm was introduced to the big leagues after putting on a pitching masterclass in the minor leagues for the Birmingham Barons in 1902. He threw back-to-back one-hit games and was a star in the minors. This feat earned him an invite to spring training camp for the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1903. He went on to play several games for the Pirates, but ultimately struggled against big-league batters, playing a single and final game in the minors for a team called Rochester Tribe.

Did You Know?

Kaiser earned his nickname from his teammates, who claimed he reminded them of the 20th-century German emperor, Wilhelm II. He also would manage the Phillies from 1921-1922.

6. Phil Niekro

Born: 04/01/1939
Retired: 09/27/1987
Team: Atlanta Braves
Threw: Right

photo source: commons.wikimedia.org

Philip Niekro was a right-handed pitcher who played his last game for the Atlanta Braves at 48 years old. He had a positive win-loss record of 318-274, an ERA of 3.35, and 3,342 strikeouts.

With a whopping 3k+ strikeouts, Niekro was inducted into the MLB hall of fame in 1997. Phil still holds the record for most career victories at the age of 40 with 121 wins. The main factor in the earlier retirement of most pitchers is the amount of stress they put on their arms, throwing in the 80-90 mph range consistently every four or five days. It explains why so many pitchers require Tommy John surgery.

Niekro managed to prolong his career by mastering a pitch called the Knuckleball. It’s a difficult pitch to master, but very effective, with the benefit of being easy on the arm with its slow rate of speed on delivery.

Did You Know?

Niekro had a younger brother, Joe, who was also a successful player. Together, they collected 539 wins, which stand as the most by a brother duo in the MLB

5. Jamie Moyer

Born: 11/18/1962
Retired: 05/27/2012
Team: Colorado Rockies
Threw: Left

photo source: commons.wikimedia.org

Jamie Moyer was a left-handed pitcher who played his last game for the Colorado Rockies at 49 years old. He had a win-loss record of 269-209, an ERA of 4.25, and 2,441 strikeouts.

Moyer drew many comparisons to Niekro because of his historically long career. Old age may have had something to do with it, as well! Don’t let the impressive strikeout count fool you. Moyer also holds the record for most home runs allowed with 522. You can say he was a high-risk, high-reward kind of guy.

Did You Know?

Moyer has received some impressive rewards for his philanthropic endeavors and community service. These include, but are not limited to, the Roberto Clemente Award and Lou Gehrig Memorial Award.

4. Hoyt Wilhelm

Born: 07/26/1922
Retired: 07/10/1972
Team: Los Angeles Dodgers
Threw: Right

Hoyt Wilhelmphoto source: commons.wikimedia.org

Hoyt “Old Sarge” Wilhelm was a right-handed pitcher who played his last game for the Los Angeles Dodgers at 49 years old. He had a win-loss record of 143-122, an ERA of 2.52, 1,610 strikeouts, and 228 saves as a closer.

Hoyt is also a member of the MLB Hall of Fame with his induction in 1985. Most professional athletes, especially in the modern era, get their start in their early 20s. Lately, the starting age for pros has been as young as 18!

When it comes to “Old Sarge,” he was busy fighting in WWII before spending a few years developing in the minors, where he became good enough to make his pro debut at 29. Despite the late start, Wilhelm owns the record for 124 games won as a relief pitcher.

Did You Know?

Even though Wilhelm was a reliever, he once threw a no-hitter as a starter. It’s one of the rarest and most difficult achievements in the world of professional sports.

…Now, imagine him being put on the Hall of Fame waitlist for eight years before being elected. That certainly came with its fair share of backlash!

3. Jack Quinn

Born: 07/01/1883
Retired: 07/07/1933
Team: Cincinnati Reds
Threw: Right

photo source: commons.wikimedia.org

Jack Quinn was a right-handed relief pitcher who played his last game for the Cincinnati Reds at 50 years old. He had a win-loss record of 247-218, an ERA of 3.29, 1,329 strikeouts, and 56 saves.

The story of how Quinn made it to MLB is about as unconventional as it gets, and a clear example of a time that has long passed. While attending a minor league game in Connellsville, a then 14-year old Quinn threw a foul ball from the stands and square into the catchers’ glove, or “right on the numbers,” as some ballplayers would say. The manager of the opposing team saw the life-changing throw and offered him a contract.

Quinn may not have achieved much critical success for his play on the field, but given his unique longevity, he’s a household name.

Did You Know?

Jack Quinn is a native Slovakian, and was born in what was previously Stefuró, Hungary. His experience before the MLB consisted of playing recreational games for mining teams.

2. Nick Altrock

Born: 09/15/1876
Retired: 10/01/1933
Team: Washington Senators
Threw: Left

photo source: commons.wikimedia.org

Nicholas Altrock was a left-handed pitcher who played his last game for the Washington Senators at 57 years old. He sported a win-loss record of 83-75, an ERA of 2.65, and 425 strikeouts.

Altrock is a 3x World Series champion. He won in 1903, 1906, and in 1924 as a coach for the Senators. Drafted into the league as a pitcher, Nick played from 1898 to 1919. He was smart enough to stay on the payroll as a pinch hitter until 1933 to prolong his career.

Did You Know?

Altrock appeared in major league games spanning five decades. That makes him one of only two to notch that remarkable achievement. The only other player to accomplish this was Minnie Miñoso.

1. Satchel Paige

Born: 07/07/1906
Retired: 09/25/1965
Team: Kansas City Athletics
Threw: Right

photo source: commons.wikimedia.org

Leroy “Satchell” Paige is the oldest pitcher to play in the MLB!  

Leroy was a right-handed pitcher who played his last game for the Kansas City Athletics at 59 years old. That’s right: a 59-year-old man was still an MLB caliber player. It is all the more impressive when you also take into account that Major League Baseball is considered to be the hardest sport to break into and to stay in.

Leroy carried with him a win-loss record of 118-80, a 2.70 ERA, and 1,438 strikeouts. He is a 2x All-Star, a World Series champion (1948), forever immortalized in the Cleveland Indians Hall of Fame, and inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1971 via the Negro League Committee.

Did You Know?

Joe DiMaggio states that Paige was the best he ever faced. He was known for throwing almost exclusively fastballs at blazing speeds. Players back then considered his pitch velocity to be the fastest they’d ever seen, with fire practically tailing off the end of the baseball.



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