Rich Hill is MLB’s oldest active player; will he play until he’s 45 like Tom Brady?


Tom Brady not only retired this week, but also passed the torch of being the oldest active player in the four major professional sports to a fellow University of Michigan alumni: Rich Hill.

Hill, who will turn 43 on March 11th, is entering his 19th MLB season with his 12th different team after signing with the Pittsburgh Pirates last month.

The veteran southpaw is coming off a solid 8-7 season with a 4.27 ERA with the Red Sox. He’s been able to remain relatively consistent with a career ERA of 3.85.

Hill joined Rob Bradford on the Audacy Original Podcast “Baseball Isn’t Boring” after Brady’s retirement and talked about what it’s like to play professionally into his 40s, and if he thinks he’ll play until he’s 45 – or older.

“I feel great. I think life changes as you get older and other factors start coming into play,” Hill said (7:56 in player above). “Our son, Brice, who’s 11 years old now has his own schedule. The amount of time we’ve accumulated in this game and have given to this game has obviously been reciprocated in the same fashion. With baseball, we’ve been really fortunate.”

Brice Hill will complete his MLB ballpark checklist this year with a trip to Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati. He’s fallen in love with the game, just as his dad has, and Rich is taking it one day at a time.

“Right now, literally, when people say at this point in their career they take it one day at a time and one week at a time, that’s where I’m really at,” he said. “I know we have this year.

“There are three factors that come into play. The passion and the love for the game, which we talk about a lot. Being healthy, obviously, that’s a huge factor. And then being able to contribute and be a contributory factor. If you’re not putting up numbers and you’re not able to help the team win games and keep the team in games and again, have that contribution week in and week out or every fifth day as a starter, that’s something that’s a determining factor as well.”

Hill was able to contribute for the Red Sox last year and is slotted into a rotation spot for the Pirates in the upcoming season. It goes beyond that, however, as the veteran can also pass on some knowledge to those younger players.

As Hill has gotten older, he’s acknowledged that one of the most important things is the preparation. Anyone can get hyped up to go play a major-league game, but it’s not so easy to get those offseason workouts in when no one is watching.

“You’re going to have the days where you wake up and you’re dragging a– and you just don’t feel like doing anything, but you do it because you’re a professional. A professional shows up every single day,” he said. “That’s required of you and you understand what’s required of you because you wouldn’t be playing this game at 43, 44, 45. Jamie Moyer, 49… I enjoy understanding what the work is.”

Hill is religious about his shoulder program during the season and tries to take no days off. Any day off must be made up somewhere else in some way, he said.

The soon-to-be-43-year-old Hill would have to pitch at least two more seasons to reach Brady’s age at retirement. It’s a possibility for the southpaw, but he hasn’t thought about it – just as he hasn’t thought about retiring.

“To be quite honest with you, it’d be like ‘Well, do you ever think about retiring?’ That’s the other side of the coin and I say no because if I start doing that then I sleep in,” Hill said.

Spring training is quickly approaching with pitchers and catchers reporting within the next two weeks. It’s an exciting time for baseball fans and players alike.

One thing is certain for Rich: he’ll keep pitching until he’s over the Hill.

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Featured Image Photo Credit: Winslow Townson/Getty Images