SOUTH BEND — Jamie Moyer never took his professional baseball career for granted.
"I had a lot of great memories in the major leagues, but I was never guaranteed any of those opportunities," said Moyer, who spoke Monday, Feb. 9, at the South Bend Cubs First Pitch Banquet. "Neither was I guaranteed anything in the minor leagues, but it had to begin somewhere, and that's where it all began. Those are the memories I'll never forget."
Moyer, a former South Bend resident who pitched in the big leagues from age 23 to 49, spoke of his experiences in baseball, especially those that came prior to his debut with the Chicago Cubs in 1986.
South Bend is now a Chicago minor league affiliate in the Class-A Midwest League.
"The memories I was able to create in the minor leagues are some of the best friendships I have in the game," said Moyer. "When I start talking about baseball, the minor league stories start coming back and the experiences I had in all these communities and the coaches I had. It's invaluable, and it's what molds us."
Moyer spoke of being grateful for a chance to prove his worth in baseball.
"I really started to believe it was all about opportunity," said Moyer. "Those opportunities began in communities like this. For me, it started in Geneva, N.Y., then Winston-Salem, N.C., Pittsfield, Mass., Des Moines, Iowa. Those where my destination stops for the Chicago Cubs."
Moyer said the new affiliation with Chicago and the facilities at Four Winds Field, including the new South Bend Cubs Performance Center (or "Cubs Cage") made possible through owner Andrew T. Berlin and run by former South Bend Silver Hawks manager Mark Haley, will allow both professional ballplayers and area youngsters a chance to pursue their dreams.
For Moyer, who has a book out called "Just Tell Me I Can't: How Jamie Moyer Defied the Radar Gun and Defeated Time," it's all about the opportunities.
"We all had to have some sort of opportunity in our lives and what you do with that opportunity, it's your choice," Moyer said in his speech. "Life is choices. Sometimes you make good choices, and sometimes you don't make such good choices.
"(Supporters of the South Bend Cubs) are giving those kids choices, and I thank you for that."