Can you throw harder than a 49-year-old?

The Class A affiliate of the Minnesota Twins is running a promotion in which fans can win a free ticket to a future game if they can top Moyer’s 78 miles-an-hour on the radar gun. On the first day of the promotion last week, about 85 fans tried. None succeeded.

Mike Dodd, USA Today.

Aaron Gleeman brought this up last week, which prompted some pretty funny Twitter exchanges and then a conversation on the podcast: What percentage of adult males between 20 and 60 can throw 80 miles per hour or above? Because, as Gleeman noted, lots of people react to news of Moyer getting Major League hitters out with 78 mph gas with comments like, “Hell, I can throw that hard.” But truth is you probably can’t.

I’ve been playing baseball in Brooklyn for almost six years now. In that time there’s been turnover in our group, plus some fill-in players. So I’ve probably played with upwards of 100 people in that time, many of whom played in college. At a recent bar conversation with several of the longest-tenured players, we could only name four or five who might throw 80 on one throw. We confirmed, via text message during the conversation, that one guy we played with one time was throwing in the mid-to-high 80s, but a) his pitches were demonstrably faster than everyone else’s and b) the same text message conversation revealed that the guy, a college pitcher, is now slated for labrum surgery.

My friend Bill threw in the high 80s in high school. I haven’t seen him throw in years and he may jump in the comments and say otherwise, but I suspect he could still throw at least as hard as Moyer today.

And that’s it. One friend from high school whom I suspect can, a couple guys from the very self-selecting group of baseball dudes that might, and one dude we played with one time who definitely could but now needs shoulder surgery. Throwing even as fast as Jamie Moyer is a very, very rare ability, which is why I guessed only 1 in 500 adult males can do it on the podcast and in the Twitter conversation with Gleeman.

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