Jamie Moyer Essay: A True Class Act

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Jamie Moyer was one of the most beloved players to ever put on a Seattle Mariners’ uniform, and on this past Saturday he was enshrined in the M’s Hall of Fame. Moyer was a personal favorite of mine, and I made the pilgrimage south to Seattle to celebrate his life and career. I was fortunate enough to have a press credential, and thus, I have the rare experience of watching the ceremony from the comfy confines of the Safeco Field press box.

Jamie Moyer called Seattle home for 11 seasons during the late 90’s and 2000’s. He was an integral piece on three separate postseason teams during his tenure, and represented the M’s at the All-Star Game in 2003. Moyer won 20 games during the 2001 season in which the Mariners set an American league record by winning 116 games. A finesse pitcher by definition, Moyer relied heavily on his trademark changeup. Jamie hung up his cleats in 2012 at the tender age of 49. He finished his illustrious career with 269 career victories, and a franchise record 145 as a member of the Mariners.

“[Moyer] was a Picasso on the mound, painting the inside corner, and then just touching up the outside corner with his signature changeup. Forever frustrating Major League hitters. Boy, it was fun watching him pitch at the Kingdome and eventually right here at Safeco Field.”

– Mariners’ Legendary Broadcaster, Rick Rizzs

Over 39,000 fans packed Safeco to watch one of the best pitchers in franchise history take his rightful spot in the hall. Moyer is the ninth member of the exclusive club, as he joins Alvin Davis, Dave Niehaus, Jay Buhner, Edgar Martinez, Randy Johnson, Dan Wilson, Ken Griffey Jr. and Lou Piniella. The Big Unit was unable to attend this year, as his number was being retired in Arizona. Obviously, the late great Dave Niehaus was not present, but his lovely wife, Marilyn was on the field to represent the “voice of the Mariners.” It was a very moving ceremony, hosted by the incomparable Rick Rizzs.

Moyer brought along many family and friends to witness the special event in person. On the field were Jamie’s father, his uncle, Karen (his wife), and all 8 of his children. Seattle also welcomed home former greats like Mike Cameron, Bret Boone and Raul Ibanez. It was a beautiful sunny day on Saturday in the Emerald City, but nothing shined brighter than the smiles plastered on the faces of the Moyer family.

Personally, I have never seen a more gracious induction speech than that of Jamie Moyer. The All-Star southpaw did not boast about his on field accomplishments, nor did he pat himself on the back for being an outstanding citizen in the Seattle community. Rather, Moyer opted to use his time to focus our attention on the players and people who helped him on his journey.

With pitchers like Randy Johnson and Felix Hernandez generating far more fanfare, it likely will come as a surprise to some that Moyer holds the franchise record for most career wins. However, Jamie was quick to point out that all 145 of his wins were a team effort. He even showed highlights of plays made during the epic 2001 season that he felt changed the course of specific games.

Midway through his tremendous speech, a scrolling list of names appeared on the jumbotron in center field. The names were all the players Moyer played with during his tenure in Seattle. He went to say that he “wants to dedicate this day to all the players I suited up with.” It was a classy gesture by a classy man.

“The record book says I won 145 games as a Mariner, but those wins belong to every single guy in the locker room.”

– Jamie Moyer on the importance of his teammates

Jamie Moyer thanked the Mariners’ fans for their support during his 11 years in Seattle. Moyer spoke directly to the fans, saying, “your support, your passion for the game, your passion for the Mariners, is what I will always remember.” He suggested the fans’ enthusiasm made every start special for him, but in reality, Moyer made every start special for the fans. He proceeded to thank his family, and dispel any rumors of a potential comeback.

Moyer concluded his speech by pointing out a few things he believes have defined his life and career. He implored fans to maximize their talents and capitalize on the opportunities they have to better themselves professionally and personally. Moyer advised fans to tune out those who do not believe in you, and surround yourself with people who will help you achieve your dreams.

A lot of people preach similar messages, but Moyer’s words ring especially true when you consider all the obstacles he had to overcome during his remarkable 25-year big league career. Jamie did not tally more than 13 wins in a single season until he was 34, and yet he managed to rack up 269 career victories. A polar opposite to the 100 mph fastball of the Big Unit, Moyer’s fastball barely touched 80 mph on the gun. He had to outsmart opposing hitters. Jamie could not afford to miss his spots, and thankfully for the Mariners, he rarely did.

It is rare in professional sports to find a superstar athlete who is a better person off the field than they are on it. Jamie Moyer fits this description. Jamie and his wife, Karen are extremely involved in the community. The Moyer Foundation is the most prominent organization Jamie and Karen are involved with. Click here to find out more about the amazing work they do at Camp Erin and Camp Mariposa. There are countless examples these days of athletes doing the wrong thing, and it was refreshing listening to some of the young people the Moyer’s have helped sing his praises during the ceremony. In 2003, Moyer was honored with the Roberto Clemente Award for sportsmanship and community service.

There is an unwritten rule in a Major League press box; no cheering. There was not an empty seat to be found when Jamie Moyer took the microphone prior to first pitch. The other writers may not have shown any true emotion, but the level of respect they had for Jamie was obvious. It was deathly quiet, and everyone was listening intently. It took everything I had to not break into applause at the end of Jamie’s speech, but I managed to restrain myself somehow.

Moyer played the game the right way, and he inspired a generation of athletes to do the same. He was an example not only of how to pitch successfully, but more importantly, of how to live a productive life. Moyer and his family have helped thousands of people in need with their charitable work, and for that reason alone he deserves a spot in the M’s Hall of Fame.

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I am overjoyed that there will always be a plaque of Jamie Moyer in the Mariners Hall of Fame. Jamie was, and will always be my favorite pitcher. As a scrawny kid with a slow fastball, I looked at him as a beacon of hope.

As a person and as a player, Jamie Moyer was the epitome of class. The world would be a better place if we all tried to live our lives with the same effort and care.

Next: Mariners Minors: Checking in with the Everett AquaSox

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