At the Diamond Club at Citizens Bank Park last night, former Phillies lefthander Jamie Moyer looked tanned and healthy as he scanned the crowd assembled for the Celebrity Waiters Dinner and Auction in support of the foundation he and wife Karen run.
With tennis legend and Philadelphia Freedoms owner Billie Jean King, Eagles kicker David Akers and a host of others on hand to serve dinner to the attendees, Moyer spoke of how consequential it has been for him to be associated with Camp Erin, a bereavement program for children that the Moyers founded in 2000 in honor of a young friend, Erin Metcalf, who passed away at age 17 of cancer.
"The aim of our program is to help children in distress," said the 49-year-old Moyer, who underwent Tommy John surgery Dec. 1 to fix his ulnar collateral ligament in his elbow and is rehabbing with the hopes of pitching again. "Having the opportunity to play baseball is pretty cool, but being on that stage as an athlete, there is some sense of responsibility that goes with it. Everyone defines what that responsibility is differently, but you ask yourself the question: What should I be doing? How can I give back?"
The Moyers answered that question by creating the camps, beginning with one in the Seattle area and expanding now to 40 camps in 25 states and one in Canada. Camp Erin, the largest bereavement camp in the United States, provides the children who attend with grief counseling, education and emotional support. Of their plans to open a camp in each major league city, Karen said that would be "quite a legacy."
Moyer added, "Baseball has opened the door for us to do many, many things."
Speaking of doors, Moyer would like to walk back through the one that leads to a spot on a big-league roster. He said he is in the third week of "a gradual throwing program," and hopes to start working again from the mound in July. While he rules out pitching this year, he is eager to see where he is by spring training.
"The doctor deemed it a successful surgery," said Moyer, who has compiled a 267-204 record in 24 seasons. "But he said the biggest thing that I have to stay away from is a setback. So I am taking this slowly and not rushing. I don't know if I can ever pitch again. But I want to do it correctly, and put myself in the best situation to potentially pitch again."
Does Moyer think ageism will be an obstacle for him?
"That's a great question," he said. "It's something I do think about. It's the reality of it. And I want to be real with it. Maybe I'll be with a club, or get invited to a camp, and next spring I get on the mound and say, 'You know what, I can't do this anymore.' My take on this is, if it works, great, if it doesn't work, great."
Karen added, "I think he can do it; he should do it."
Akers had no update on whether he believed he would be back as the Eagles' kicker next season. Given the labor negotiations, he said, "We don't know." He said he and the Eagles "can't talk." But he expressed his pleasure at being able to help Moyer with his foundation.
"He has always helped me with mine," Akers said. "Jamie is very giving."
King echoed that. "The more we receive, the more we have to give," she said. "As athletes, we are in a unique position that other people are not. We have a platform. The question you have to ask yourself is, 'What are you going to do with it?' "