A journeyman pitcher who landed with seven different clubs between 1988 and 1996, the slender Moyer relied heavily on changing speeds between his cutting fastballs and remarkable changeup to overwhelm batters. After switching between franchises for nearly a decade, the southpaw finally landed a steady job with the Mariners in the late ’90s, and came to be an integral part of their rotation.
Drafted by the Chicago Cubs in 1984, Moyer earned a spot in their rotation halfway through the 1986 season. He hurled over 200 innings in each of the next two seasons for the Cubbies, but with a 21-30 record and a 4.29 ERA, the Wrigley management began to sour on the southpaw. Moyer was shipped to the Texas Rangers in December 1988 in a nine-player deal that also brought first baseman Rafael Palmeiro to the Lone Star State.
After floundering with the Rangers, Moyer spent time with the St. Louis Cardinals and then the Detroit Tigers‘ minor league system, but couldn’t seem to find his groove. He signed with the Baltimore Orioles in December 1992 and seemed to have found a stable job on their roster, but it wasn’t until 1995 that he was recognized as a durable starter. Between June 26 and August 19, Moyer won seven of his eight decisions to keep Baltimore in the wild-card hunt, though they would eventually lose it to the New York Yankees.
The 1995 campaign marked a turnaround for Moyer. He signed with the Boston Red Sox in January 1996, and notched seven victories as a spot starter before being traded to the Seattle Mariners for Darren Bragg in July. Moyer earned a full-fledged spot in the Seattle rotation and went 6-2 with a 3.31 ERA down the stretch for the M’s. The following year, he recorded his best season at 17-5 with a 3.86 ERA, making an effective 1-2 southpaw punch with Randy Johnson as Seattle finished atop the AL West.
Moyer continued to pitch effectively with Seattle over the next three years. In fact, though he was just 59-76 after 1995, the lefty compiled a .702 winning percentage from 1996-1999 with the Sox and the Mariners, amassing 59 wins in that span. He placed another feather in his cap on August 27, 1998 when he notched his 100th win and 1,000th strikeout in the same game against the Cleveland Indians.
Moyer’s age appeared to show in 2000, when a weak muscle in the back of his left shoulder sidelined him for two months. But in 2001 the 39-year-old righty played a key role in Seattle’s record-setting season, becoming. On October 5th, he became the oldest player to post twenty wins for the first time.
Though Seattle would be the place of his diamond triumphs, Chicago was the locale for his diamond ring triumph. While a Cub in the mid-80s, Moyer met his future wife, then an intern for WGN television station — Karen Phelps, the daughter of Notre Dame basketball coach Digger Phelps.