There Will Be a 50-Year-Old Pitcher in Japan Next Year

Left-hander Masahiro Yamamoto, who turns 50 next August, has renewed his contract with the Chunichi Dragons of the Japanese NPB, according to Jun Hongo of the Wall Street Journal.

Yamamoto made his debut for the Dragons in 1986 — which is to say, the same exact year in which many American children (the author included) received the original Nintendo for their birthdays and wore Jams-brand shorts while so doing.

Given the Tokyo native’s birth date (i.e. after July 1st, by which date “baseball age” is calculated), next year will only technically represent Yamamoto’s age-49 season, a feat equaled in the major leagues by only three pitchers ever: Jack Quinn (1933), Hoyt Wilhelm (1972), and Jamie Moyer (2012). Of that triumvirate, only Quinn made any appearances as a 50-year-old, facing a combined 12 batters over two appearances during the six days after his birthday.

Satchel Paige notably made zero appearances as a 49-year-old, having left major-league baseball following his age-46 season with the St. Louis Browns. He did, however, throw three innings as a 58-year-old in 1965 with the Kansas City Athletics.

Of Yamamoto specifically, one finds that he actually threw about 150 innings for Class-A Dodgers affiliate Vero Beach in 1988 as part of an agreement between the Dodgers and the NPB. There, he was teammates with Jose Offerman, for example, who’s been retired for nearly a decade.

In conclusion — and for the benefit of everyone — here’s an animated GIF of Satchel Paige’s delivery:

Paige Windup

Carson Cistulli has published a book of aphorisms called Spirited Ejaculations of a New Enthusiast.

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Plony Tush
Plony Tush

He probably faced a teenaged Sammy Sosa during that year at Vero Beach.