NEW YORK (AP) — On the second day of his life as an octogenarian, former big league pitcher Phil Regan walked out to the infield and threw batting practice for the New York Mets.
On a brisk afternoon before Friday night's game against the Miami Marlins, Regan took his tosses from about 30 feet, just like the other BP pitchers.
Regan had been talking about his goal for a year at the team's spring training complex in Port St. Lucie, Florida.
"I said I hope that when I'm 80, that I can throw batting practice — that's going to be my goal, to throw when I'm 80," he said
Regan, 96-81 during 13 big league seasons, is in his ninth season with the Mets and is their assistant minor league pitching coordinator. He turned 80 on Thursday and had planned to throw BP to minor leaguers at Port St. Lucie. His plan changed at about 7:30 p.m. Wednesday when he picked up his phone and Brian Small, the Mets' manager of team travel, was on the line.
"Hey, can you catch a plane up here tomorrow morning?" Regan remembered Small asking him.
Regan joked about the zip on his fastball.
"Probably about 95," he said of his mph. "I'm going to tone it down a little bit for the BP, though."
Regan pitched for Detroit (1960-65), the Los Angeles Dodgers (1966-68), the Chicago Cubs (1968-72) and Chicago White Sox (1972), earning his only All-Star selection in 1966. He won 15 games in 1963 and 14 in '66, and was nicknamed The Vulture by Dodgers teammate Sandy Koufax for getting wins out of the bullpen.
"I never had an arm problem when I was pitching, My last year with the Cubs, I thought I still was throwing pretty good, but they started hitting the ball. I was making good pitches but wasn't getting anybody out." he said.
Regan coached since retiring as a player and managed Baltimore in 1995, when Cal Ripken Jr. broke Lou Gehrig's consecutive games record.
He has a simple philosophy: "You keep doing it, keep doing it day after day. ... I think Jim Kaat said you'll rust out before you wear out, so it's probably true."