You know you are getting old when you watch a New York Mets game with a peculiar affinity for third-base coach Joey Cora, wondering whether he will green-light a runner to try for home plate on that offensively inept squad that plays its home games at Citi Field in Queens.

The reason is because Cora was born on May 14, 1965, which is a birthday shared with the author of this article … an author who keeps getting told by his son’s friends that he is soooooo old.

Forget the fact that some folks stay mentally 21 forever and end up offending the easily offended in this generational diaspora that includes blame-and shame culture wars. Those young’uns actually have a point, and they seem mystified when they are told that they stand a good chance of being 58 someday, too. If they follow the rules.

And that is a big “if” among some teens. Take it from a parent.

Anyway, baseball can be played by the very young and the very old, which is why we have Little Leagues and Old-Timers games. There are recreational hardball leagues for folks in their 50s and 60s that draw players from that age group each weekend in cities and towns across America. And there are folks in their 70s, 80s, and 90s who relish every chance they get to spend an afternoon at a ballpark with their 10-year-old grandchild.

Baseball and Americana is made up of stuff like that. So, as you peruse this list of old-timers who were still pitching and running the bases well past the normal Major League Baseball retirement age, keep in mind that aging gracefully is a challenge each of us must face every day, no matter how old or young we look or feel.

Who is the oldest player in the 2023 MLB season?

The honor of being the oldest major-leaguer in 2023 belongs to a left-handed pitcher for the Pittsburgh Pirates who was born on was born on March 11, 1980, when Jimmy Carter was President of the United States and Mount St. Helens was still two months away from erupting. Rich Hill came out of the 2023 MLB All-Star break with a 7-9 record and 4.78 ERA for the Pirates, who have the misfortune of having to chase the Cincinnati Reds and Milwaukee Brewers this season.

Who was the oldest MLB player ever?

Satchel Paige was easily the oldest player to play in a Major League Baseball game at the age of 59 years and 80 days. After playing most of his years in the Negro Leagues, Paige eventually made his MLB debut with the Cleveland Indians.

Ranking the 10 oldest players in MLB History

  1. Arlie Latham

Oldest Age While Playing: 49 years, 199 days
Years Active: 1880 to 1909
Position: Third base
Teams: Buffalo Bisons, St. Louis Browns, Chicago White Stockings, Cincinnati Reds, St. Louis Browns, Washington Senators, New York Giants

Arlie Latham was a catcher back in the days when catchers did not wear a mitt. So, yeah, that was a long time ago. The native of West Lebanon, N.H., had been retired for 10 years -- working as an umpire and manager -- when he made a return with the New York Giants. He flashed some of the speed that allowed him to accumulate 42 career stolen bases, getting the last of those at age 49. He holds the career record for errors at third base with 822.  

  1. Jimmy Austin

Oldest Age While Playing: 49 years, 302 days
Years Active: 1909 to 1929
Position: Third base
Teams: New York Yankees, St. Louis Browns

Born in Swansea, Wales, Jimmy Austin did not make his major league debut until he was 29, which is now the average retirement age for baseball players. He was inserted into a blowout game late in the 1929 season and cleanly fielded two balls hit to third base while striking out in his only at-bat. He became mayor of Laguna Beach, Calif., in the 1940s.

  1. Hoyt Wilhelm

Oldest Age While Playing: 49 years, 350 days
Years Active: 1952 to 1972
Position: Pitcher
Teams: New York Giants, St. Louis Cardinals, Cleveland Indians, Baltimore Orioles, Chicago White Sox, California Angels, Atlanta Braves, Chicago Cubs, Los Angeles Dodgers

A knuckleballer from Huntersville, N.C., Hoyt Wilhelm fought in World War II and spent several seasons in the minor leagues before making his rookie debut at age 29. Wilhelm won 124 games in relief, which is still the MLB record. He was the first pitcher to reach 200 saves and the first to appear in 1,000 games.

  1. Jack Quinn

Oldest Age While Playing: 50 years, 6 days
Years Active: 1909 to 1933
Position: Pitcher
Teams: New York Yankees, Boston Braves, Baltimore Terrapins, Chicago White Sox, Boston Red Sox, Philadelphia Athletics, Brooklyn Dodgers, Cincinnati Reds

An immigrant from Stefurov, Slovakia (then part of Austria-Hungary), Jack Quinn’s discovery story is a great one. While watching a semi-pro game in rural Pennsylvania, a then 14-year-old Quinn threw a foul ball back from the stands to the catcher, hitting his mitt right in the middle. The visiting manager from the nearby town of Dunbar was impressed by the throw and offered Quinn a contract. He went on to spend 23 seasons in the major leagues.

  1. String Bean Williams

Oldest Age While Playing: 51
Years Active: 1923 to 1925
Position: Pitcher
Teams: Brooklyn Royal Giants, Washington Potomacs, Atlantic City Bacharach Giants, New York Lincoln Giants

A pitcher and manager, Williams was 50 when he made his major league debut for the Brooklyn Royal Giants in 1923. To this day, he remains the oldest rookie in major league history. Little else has been published about this veteran of the Negro Leagues who also played for minor-league clubs in West Baden, Ind., Indianapolis, Louisville, San Francisco, St. Louis, Dayton, and Chicago.

  1. Jim O’Rourke

Oldest Age While Playing: 54 years, 21 days
Years Active: 1872 to 1904
Positions: Outfielder, Catcher, First base
Teams: Middletown Manfields, Boston Red Stockings, Providence Greys, Buffalo Bisons, New York Giants, Washington Senators

An attorney from Bridgeport, Conn., whose second job was that of pro baseball player, Jim O’Rourke was responsible for the first-ever hit in National League history while playing for the Boston Red Stockings. He won two league championships with the New York Giants and led the National League in home runs during the 1880 season.

  1. Minnie Minoso

Oldest Age While Playing: 56 years, 311 days
Years Active: 1946 to 1980
Positions: Outfielder, Third base
Teams: New York Cubans, Cleveland Indians, Chicago White Sox, St. Louis Cardinals, Washington Senators

A native of Perico, Cuba, whose career began in the Negro Leagues, Minnie Minoso made brief but highly publicized player appearances in 1976 and 1980. He became the third player to get a hit after the age of 50 and the second player to appear in the major leagues in five different decades. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2022 after being selected by the Golden Days Era Committee.

  1. Nick Altrock

Oldest Age While Playing: 57 years, 16 days
Years Active: 1898 to 1924
Position: Pitcher
Teams: Louisville Colonels, Boston Americans, Chicago White Sox, Washington Senators

A native of Cincinnati, Nick Altrock made periodic appearances as a pinch hitter for many years until his final game at the age of 57. He had one official at-bat in 1919, 1924, 1929, 1931, and 1933. He was a 20-game winner for the Chicago White Sox team that went on to win the 1906 World Series. Altrock teamed with Al Schacht, the “Clown Prince of Baseball,” for a dozen years to perform comedy routines on baseball fields in the days before official mascots.

  1. Charley O’Leary

Oldest Age While Playing: 58 years, 350 days
Years Active: 1904 to 1913, 1934
Positions: Shortstop, Second base, Third base
Teams: Detroit Tigers, St. Louis Cardinals, St. Louis Browns

Charley O’Leary, a native of Chicago, had been out of baseball for 21 years when, on September 30, 1934, several weeks shy of his 59th birthday, he was brought out of retirement by the St. Louis Browns. In a pinch-hitting appearance, O’Leary singled and subsequently scored, becoming both the oldest Major League Baseball player to collect a hit and score a run.

  1. Satchel Paige

Oldest Age While Playing: 59 years, 80 days
Years Active: 1927 to 1953, 1965
Position: Pitcher
Teams: Birmingham Black Barons, Cleveland Cubs, Pittsburgh Crawfords, Kansas City Monarchs, New York Black Yankees, Memphis Red Sox, Cleveland Indians, St. Louis Browns, Kansas City Athletics

In 1965, Kansas City Athletics team owner Charley Finley invited several Negro League veterans, including Cool Papa Bell, to be introduced before a game. Paige was in the bullpen, sitting on a rocking chair, being served coffee by a "nurse" between innings. He walked off to a standing ovation from the small crowd of 9,289. The following season, he pitched in several exhibition games.

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