MSBL hurler Tafoya gets the call -- at 48
|Rod Tafoya is 48 is a pro (independent league) pitcher, a banker, and an author of a book called "Ageless Arm."
By Chris Errington, for MSBLNational.com
At first, Andrew Dunn admits that he had no idea what to make of the situation presented to him. However, just like so many before him, he's now a believer.
"People were saying it was a gimmick to start him,” Dunn said. "We didn't promote this in the league, because we weren't sure if it was real or not. Now I know it's no gimmick.”
Dunn, Commissioner of the Pecos League, an independent professional baseball league which operates in cities in desert mountain regions throughout New Mexico, Southern Colorado and West Texas, is speaking about Rod Tafoya, a left-handed pitcher with excellent control and a mid-80s fastball.
And one other thing - next to Jamie Moyer, he may be the oldest active pro pitcher in the country.
At 48 and with 271 career wins throughout MSBL and MABL leagues across the United States, Tafoya is an adult baseball legend throughout New Mexico. But, while many players his age are contemplating retirement, Tafoya is still going strong.
"It's kind of in my blood. It's really hard to shake it off,” Tafoya said of his undiminished love of the game. "Everyone's got their reasons [for playing], but I do it because I can.”
That passion and a drive to eclipse the 300-win milestone helped persuade Tafoya to try out for the Pecos League's newest team, the Santa Fe Fuego. His ability to get professional hitters half his age out was the reason he not only made the roster, but was on the mound for their May 9th home opener against the Trinidad Triggers.
|Rod Tafoya pitched the May 9 opener for the Santa Fe Fuego
||While Tafoya, who often drives several
hours to starts following his day job as a vice president an Albuquerque bank, hasn't earned a mound victory yet, two of the Fuego's three wins have come during his starts. Once again proving all doubters wrong.
"[Tafoya's] given them two quality starts,” Dunn said. "Right now he's their No. 2 or 3 starter and gives them the best chance to win.”
Tafoya, who authored a book titled, "Ageless Arm: My passion lives in the core,” credits pitching year round for the past eight years for keeping his left arm loose enough to defy the odds and time. It was his older brother Jack, however, that may have had the biggest impact on his baseball career.
According to veteran sports writer and Tafoya book editor Arnie Leshin, Jack tied his four-year-old brother's right arm behind him and instructed all family members to force Tafoya to throw lefty. The tactic was based on the idea that left-handed pitchers often have more pitching success and career longevity than righthanders.
"Jack always figured he'd have more success as a lefty and so far, it's worked out pretty well,” Leshin said. "With Rod, it's all about baseball. That's all he talks about and all he thinks about. I've never met anyone so focused on one sport.
"He was just born to throw.”
Tafoya admits to "babying” his arm to keep it in year-round shape and it's been this constant care and attention that's helped lead to his MSBL/MABL record number of victories, five career no-hitters and an incredible feat he accomplished just three years ago. Playing in the MSBL's 25-Over Caribbean Championship in Puerto Rico, Tafoya earned MVP honors by earning back-to-back victories, tossing an incredible 222 pitches during a six-hour stretch.
|"There's really no secret,” Tafoya said.
"Anybody could do what I'm doing. For me, the key is I treat [my arm] well. Ice it. Respect it. Don't overthrow and do a lot of long throw. And I run every day. Do everything I can – including buying a treadmill – to keep my arm in shape.
"I'm afraid to stop throwing, because once I stop, I have to get the shoulder going again. The good thing is that come January, I'm already in August shape.”
And that's good news for the Fuego. Standing 3-7 in the early stages of their inaugural season, Santa Fe may need to rely upon the man who's quickly becoming the league's most interesting story
And that's good news for Tafoya.
"I thought when I was 30 that I'd had a great career,” Tafoya said. "But that was just the beginning. Since then I've started a whole new career and I don't plan to stop anytime soon.”