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When Jamie Moyer came to Toledo 20 years ago, he wondered if this was the proverbial turning point, not only in baseball but in his life.
Moyer's pitching career appeared to be in limbo, after six seasons in the major leagues with the Chicago Cubs, Texas Rangers and St. Louis Cardinals.
After going 0-5 in seven starts with the Cardinals in 1991 -- and spending most of that season in the minor leagues -- Moyer signed a contract the next year with the Detroit Tigers, in hopes of either resurrecting his career … or finding out if his time in baseball was coming to a close.
"I remember telling myself, 'This potentially could be your last opportunity. So approach this in a way that you have fun with it,' " Moyer told ESPN.com last week. " 'Just be yourself and go throw whatever you want to throw, when you want to throw it, where you want to throw it.' I honestly did that.
"And things just started to turn around. I really took pressure off myself. … I relaxed a little bit. It wasn't like every time I pitched I was pitching for my career and my career was on the line. Things just started to fall in line.''
In his only season with the Mud Hens (1992), Moyer was 10-8 with a 2.86 ERA in 138⅔ innings pitched. But his stay in Toledo revived his career.
At 30 years old, Moyer signed with the Baltimore Orioles in December, 1992, one of seven teams he has pitched for in his career.
In 1999, Moyer told The Blade that he believed the season he spent in Toledo was beneficial in his re-development as a major league pitcher.
"I gained a lot of confidence pitching in Toledo,'' he said. "I got an opportunity to develop confidence and maturity, and I took advantage of it.''
Twenty years after his minor-league season in Toledo (one of five stints in the minors for Moyer), the 49-year-old left-hander has earned a spot in the Colorado Rockies rotation and will start the team's second game of the season, April 7 against Houston. Moyer joined the Rockies in spring training, on a minor-league contract with an invite to major-league camp. He's the oldest player on any major league roster this season.
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He'll enter his 26th major league season after sitting out the 2011 season, recovering from reconstructive elbow surgery performed in December, 2010. (The procedure is better known as "Tommy John surgery." Coincidentally, Tommy John was pitching for the New York Yankees in 1986 when Moyer was a rookie with the Chicago Cubs.)
Consider what has changed in Toledo since Moyer made his first start for the Mud Hens in the spring of 1992:
■ Fifth Third Field and the Huntington Center, the current homes of the Mud Hens and the Toledo Walleye, didn't exist.
■ The Veterans' Skyway didn't exist, either. The bridge was 15 years from the completion of construction.
■ The average cost of regular unleaded gasoline? $1.13 a gallon.
■ Today's high school seniors hadn't been born.
■ And Jacob Turner, the youngest pitcher on the Tigers' 40-man roster this season, was barely a year old when Moyer chose the direction in which he would continue his career.
Contact Rachel Lenzi at: email@example.com or 419-724-6510 and on Twitter: @RLenziBlade