Being a pitcher in the MLB is a difficult and sometimes dangerous job, which is why the oldest player currently in the MLB being a pitcher may come as a surprise.
Every pitcher knows they are one throw away from a catastrophic injury to their arm, with the most commonly known injury being Tommy John.
Tommy John Surgery comes after a pitcher damages or tears the UCL (ulnar collateral ligament) in their elbow. The UCL is usually replaced by the right arm tendon. However, Tommy John surgery patients have also had their UCL replaced with tendons from their legs, such as hamstrings or patellar tendons.
After surgery, the average recovery time spans from nine to 18 months for a pitcher.
“Dustin May returned from Tommy John surgery to make six starts for the Dodgers last season, and now he’s eligible for salary arbitration for the first time. Let’s take a look at what he might make in 2023” – True Blue LA
The question following the surgery is whether the pitcher will ever regain their previous form, which may decrease the length of their career.
Enter Rich Hill, the oldest player in the MLB entering the 2023 season and a pitcher who has undergone Tommy John Surgery.
At 42 years and 300 days, the 18-year veteran is the oldest player in the league by 112 days, keeping himself ahead of Nelson Cruz for the title. Prior to the new year, Hill signed a one-year, $8 million deal with the Pittsburgh Piratesextending his MLB career, which once seemed in question.
“Pirates dropped a hype video for Rich Hill. Fuck Yes.” – Starting 9
On June 9, 2011, Rich Hill underwent Tommy John Surgery, which had a lower success rate in comparison to advances made to the procedure in recent years. However, 12 years later, Rich Hill continues to prove that age is just a number, entering the 2023 season as the oldest player.
Satchel Paige was the oldest player in MLB history
At 59 years, and 80 days, Satchel Paige was the oldest-ever player to play in the MLB. Paige made his professional debut in the Negro Leagues in 1927 with the Birmingham Black Barons. In 1948, he made his American/National League debut with the Cleveland Indians.
“Satchel Paige started a regular season MLB game for the Kansas City Athletics against the Boston Red Sox at the age of 59. 10 batters faced, 1 baserunner, 0 runs. Insane.” – Codify
In 1965, Kansas City Athletics owner Charles O. Finley signed Paige for one game. He pitched three innings, giving up only one hit and recording a strikeout.
His record will never be surpassed.