Jason Lane became the oldest pitcher to make his first career start on the hill in franchise history at 37. His story doesn't stop there, either. If his name sounds familiar, you might recall him hitting 26 home runs for the 2005 Astros in the regular season and then clubbing three homers in the postseason -- including one in the World Series.
And yet, at age 37, here was Lane Monday:
After Lane's career year in 2005, he hit just .201/.318/.392 in 2006 and things spiraled downward from there at the plate. He played strictly in the minors in 2008 and then transitioned to pitching in 2009. In 2012, he bounced between Triple-A and Independent ball (with the Sugar Land Skeeters of Roger Clemens and Tracy McGrady fame). He did the same in 2013 with Sugar Land and Tuscon (the Padres' Triple-A affiliate).
In Triple-A this season, Lane made 19 starts. And now, he has one major-league start under his belt.
It should go without saying, but just getting to the majors at one position is off-the-charts, amazingly difficult. Even the very worst among major league players are exponentially better players than those who can't get past the lower levels of the minors, and the overwhelming majority of those who play in high school are flat-out awful compared to lower-level minor-league players. All this is to say that it's remarkable for any human being to be talented enough, have the work ethic and carry the required mental toughness to make the majors.
And Lane has done it both as a position player and a starting pitcher. The kind of baseball acumen one needs to possess in order to have a 25-homer season as an outfielder and then make a big-league start on the hill at the age of 37 is worthy of attention, so let us give Lane his due.