List of Major League Baseball players who played in four decades
Playing Major League Baseball in four decades is a very rare achievement, attained by only 29 players in the league's history, dating from the 1870s to the present day.
Several qualities are virtually essential. Outstanding skill and durability are paramount, and a player must also have some "generational luck" to have started his career in the later years of a decade, so that if he is still playing 21–24 years later, he is playing in the early years of a fourth decade. For example, Pete Rose started his career in 1963, so he would've had to play 28 seasons to make the list. Whereas Bill Buckner, whose career started in the last year of the 1960s, finished his career in the first year of the 1990s, requiring only 22 seasons to make the list. Most of the players on the list started their careers in the final or second-to-last year of their first decade and finished their careers in the first or second year of their fourth decade (a notable exception is Nolan Ryan, whose 27 seasons played is a major league record). Two players — Nick Altrock and Minnie Miñoso — appeared in major league baseball games in five decades.
Since 1900 (the first year that a player could play in a "fourth decade"), every decade except the 1940s has added at least one player to the list, including the current one (though the 1970s only added Minnie Miñoso, who played three games in 1976 after having been out of the majors for more than a decade).
List of players
The players are listed by primary position played, playing characteristics (throwing and batting orientations), and years spanning their careers. Nine players from the group have been inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame. The players are listed chronologically by the decade they began their major league careers, then alphabetically within that group. Of the 29 players, 11 were primarily pitchers, six were primarily catchers, six were primarily outfielders, and six were primarily infielders; the group covers virtually the complete range of baseball positions, missing only a third baseman.
|Member of the National Baseball Hall of Fame|
|*||Player is active|
|Player||Position||First season||Last season|
|Brouthers, DanDan Brouthers||First baseman||1879||1904|
|O'Rourke, JimJim O'Rourke||Outfielder||1872||1904|
|Gleason, KidKid Gleason||Pitcher / Second baseman||1888||1912|
|McGuire, DeaconDeacon McGuire||Catcher||1884||1912|
|O'Connor, JackJack O'Connor||Catcher||1887||1912|
|Ryan, JackJack Ryan||Catcher||1889||1913|
|Altrock, NickNick Altrock||Pitcher||1898||1933|
|Collins, EddieEddie Collins||Second baseman||1906||1930|
|Quinn, JackJack Quinn||Pitcher||1909||1933|
|Newsom, BoboBobo Newsom||Pitcher||1929||1953|
|Vernon, MickeyMickey Vernon||First baseman||1939||1960|
|Williams, TedTed Williams||Outfielder||1939||1960|
|Wynn, EarlyEarly Wynn||Pitcher||1939||1963|
|Miñoso, MinnieMinnie Miñoso||Outfielder||1949||1980|
|Kaat, JimJim Kaat||Pitcher||1959||1983|
|McCarver, TimTim McCarver||Catcher||1959||1980|
|McCovey, WillieWillie McCovey||First baseman||1959||1980|
|Buckner, BillBill Buckner||First baseman||1969||1990|
|Dempsey, RickRick Dempsey||Catcher||1969||1992|
|Fisk, CarltonCarlton Fisk||Catcher||1969||1993|
|Reuss, JerryJerry Reuss||Pitcher||1969||1990|
|Ryan, NolanNolan Ryan||Pitcher||1966||1993|
|Henderson, RickeyRickey Henderson||Outfielder||1979||2003|
|Morgan, MikeMike Morgan||Pitcher||1978||2002|
|Orosco, JesseJesse Orosco||Pitcher||1979||2003|
|Raines, TimTim Raines||Outfielder||1979||2002|
|Griffey, Jr., KenKen Griffey, Jr.||Outfielder||1989||2010|
|Moyer, JamieJamie Moyer||Pitcher||1986||2012|
|Vizquel, OmarOmar Vizquel||Shortstop||1989||2012|
- DiComo, Anthony (January 20, 2010). "Four-decade players a rare breed: Griffey, Vizquel, Moyer set to join exclusive company". MLB.com.
- Hunt, Ryan (February 17, 2000). "Been a long time: Three more enter baseball's four-decade club". Sports Illustrated.