The Big Unit May Pitch at 50

Even though he's getting up there, 45-year-old Randy Johnson is still an imposing figure on a baseball mound. Sure, he's not the same flame-throwing southpaw that nearly made John Kruk soil himself way back in 1993, but he's still bringing it. Johnson won 11 games for the Diamondbacks last season after missing most of 2007 thanks to back surgery, and he still managed to strike out 173 batters in 184 innings.

Now he's entering the 2009 season with the San Francisco Giants only five wins shy of 300 in his career, and though Johnson realizes he's creeping up on the end of his career, that doesn't mean it's going to come anytime soon. In fact, the Big Unit isn't ruling out pitching until he's 50 years old.

"Who's to say that I can't pitch just because I'm 50 years old?" he asked. "If I'm 48 years old and I'm still throwing 93 [mph] and still winning 10 or 12 games and still having fun and still being competitive, why would age matter? I'll retire when I feel like the fire had gone out of my belly. But I still have that fire and that will to compete. That's why I went through those back surgeries.

"I'm not ruling out anything. I'm just very grateful that I'm able to pitch right now. I can't fool you and say I still throw 98. I don't. I'm not in denial. But I know how to pitch. I still have the mound presence and the desire to go out there and compete. And I still have that fear of failure."

Though the idea of pitching in the Major Leagues at the age of 50 sounds somewhat ridiculous, the truth is, it's not that far-fetched. Just like Jamie Moyer, it's actually pretty reasonable when you think about it. If I've learned anything from my lifetime of watching baseball -- and it's likely I haven't -- it's that if you're left-handed and can throw a ball 60 feet and 6 inches across a white plate, somebody is going to give you a chance to pitch for them.

(Hat tip to Big League Stew)

The Big Unit May Pitch at 50 originally appeared on MLB FanHouse on Tue, 17 Mar 2009 10:21:00 EST . Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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