On Saturday night, I took my family to watch the first of what I hope to be many minor league baseball games this year at Roger Dean Stadium in Jupiter, which is the home of two Class A clubs, Miami's Jupiter Hammerheads and St. Louis' Palm Beach Cardinals.
To me, watching minor league baseball at Roger Dean has turned out to be the best way to capture that old, traditional baseball enchantment glorified in the books The Field of Dreams or The Natural that the dubious, profit-obsessed MLB has lost over recent years.
I feel very relaxed and a special sense of isolation from the problems of the world when I sit and watch a baseball game there. It's just plain magical.
I loved playing baseball as a child in a lost era of when kids listened to games on transistor radios, swapped baseball cards and played pickup games in their backyards. Back then, baseball was nothing more than an addictive, magical game of skill and strategy where major league players were true role models.
Once in a while, some of that baseball magic still appears in the big leagues too, as proven in Denver on Saturday night.
While I was watching the Hammerheads beat the Cardinals 2-0 in Jupiter, 49-year-old pitcher Jamie Moyer made history by becoming the oldest opening day starting pitcher when he took the mound for the Colorado Rockies against the Houston Astros.
While there have been other older pitchers in MLB that have shown an uncanny longevity in the game such as Phil Niekro and Randy Johnson, Moyer's return this spring makes him into an all-time geriatric baseball legend. He is just not a "natural," but a "supernatural" player.
Moyer, who made his major league debut with the Chicago Cubs on June 16, 1986 and is now in his 25th year in the major leagues, became the second oldest pitcher to make a start -- the Kansas City A's had the 59-year-old great Satchel Paige pitch three innings in 1965 to allow him to vest into the MLB retirement system.
Moyer had suffered what was thought to be a career-ending injury to his elbow in 2010. He underwent Tommy John surgery and pitched well enough this spring to earn a spot in the Rockies' pitching rotation. While he can't throw a great fast ball anymore, Moyer can toss an assortment of other pitches that still makes him tough for batters half his age to hit. The resolute Moyer is also a class act off the field and is known for philanthropy and community service. Simply, Moyer is what all MLB players should strive to be.
The pitching start by the ageless Moyer last Saturday was also a nice contrast to the Marlin's manager Ozzie Guillen's comments last week expressing his admiration for Fidel Castro and for his drunken lifestyle off the field. The scumbag Guillen, known for his explosive nature and lack of baseball decorum, again showed with his stupid comments he lacks of any true class that exemplified the average baseball player generations ago -- or Moyer now.
Moyer's perseverance and his continued quest to play in the big leagues should be motivational to the kids playing in Jupiter and in the minor league ballparks across the nation. While Moyer suffered his 205th loss of his career on Saturday, his mere presence on the pitching mound was also true inspiration to all middle-aged Americans and a win for many old fans who long for the days of the baseball magic of their childhood. It's too bad the author Bernard Malamud is not around to watch this great sports story continue to unfold.
Like going to watch the minor leaguers in Jupiter, it will be a lot of fun to watch Moyer's continued progression into one of the most mystical baseball player of all time this summer. His next game is Thursday at Coors Field against the San Francisco Giants. I'll be watching.