DENVER The old lefty has a head full of white hair andswears to the same baseball poem every waking day:
Throw till it blows. Thats my warrior cry.
It isnt Jamie Moyer, the Colorado Rockies 49-year-oldleft-hander. Shoot, Moyer is a kid compared to John Yandle.
He showed up in the clubhouse today and I said, hey!Giants third base coach Tim Flannery bellowed. We found somebody older thanJamie Moyer!
Yandle is a slim, trim 57-year-old commercial real estate executivefrom Menlo Park who also happens to be in his 28th season as theGiants left-handed batting practice pitcher. He competes in seniorleagues. Hell mix it up with the kids in the annual Stanford baseball alumnigame.
And he can still hit 80 mph.
Which made him the perfect scout-team quarterback as theGiants prepared to face Moyer on Thursday.
Oh, I wasnt gonna miss this, Yandle said. I know I canimitate Jamie. Its the guys throwing 95 that are a challenge. Thats when Ivegotta move up a little bit.
Yandle was a former 11th-round pick of the SanDiego Padres out of Stanford and made it as far as Triple-A before retiring asa 26-year-old. He played with a pitcher named Rich Adams in the CaliforniaAngels system, and when Adams got a cup of coffee with the Giants, Yandle paidhim a visit at Candlestick Park.
I was in the locker room, just hanging around, Yandlesaid. It was the end of 85 and all the coaches had sore arms. They asked if Icould throw to a couple groups. Then a few years later, when Dusty (Baker) gotin there, I started doing more specialized work with the left-handers.
Yandles role expanded further when he became a personalfavorite of Barry Bonds, who preferred facing lefties in BP. By that time,Cutter John had begun to travel with the team.
Giants manager Bruce Bochy and his staff kept on Yandle, whostill throws BP before the team faces a lefty.
We were teammates at Double-A and Triple-A, Flannery said.Hey, he used to get hit hard then, too.
Actually, Yandle was pretty good. The Lake Oswego, Oregonnative led the minors with a 1.77 ERA for Walla Walla as a 22-year-old. He madeit to big league spring training with the Padres in 78 and threw well, too.But San Diego GM Jack McKeon sent him back to Double-A and Yandle had thatthing that young kids get when the feel theyre too good for something.
He asked for his release and signed with the Angels. Oneyear in their system and he decided to turn his back on baseball. He had aStanford education and knew he could be putting it to use.
Aw, you know, he said. I had friends making more moneydoing other things. You start to think, OK, Ive gotta make my mark in thisworld. You dont think youve got 40 years until you retire. Once youre outof baseball, you can never go back.
Thanks to a bunch of sore-armed coaches in 1985, Yandlesnuck back into baseball. And hes going to keep on chucking as long as he can.
Now Im paid to get hit instead of get people out, he saidwith a laugh. Im right where I should be.