Kathy and I went with Wes and Teri Autrey to the baseball stadium Tuesday night to watch the Colorado Rockies take on the San Diego Padres. Not only did I know the potential history on the table, I was hoping I had not been getting my hopes too high. The Rockies starting pitcher that evening was Jamie Moyer. The significance of this fact is known, especially now, to even a great many non-baseball fans. For the rest of you, Moyer was 49 years and 151 days old when he took the mound. When Rafael Betencourt finally recorded the third out of the ninth inning for the save, Mr. Moyer became the oldest pitcher in the storied annals of baseball history to earn a victory. At this point early in the season, he is the most effective pitcher on the Rockies’ roster. According to statisticians, his slowest pitch was a 67 mile per hour curve ball and his fastest was a 79 mile per hour “fast” ball. For non-baseball fans, that is s-l-o-w. He has always pitched that way. Steady. Crafty. Consistent. Patient. Successful.
I remember when Tillit S. Teddlie turned 100 in 1985, a song writer in the Lord’s church whose songs included “Don’t Wait Too Long,” “Heaven Holds All To Me,” “In Heaven They’re Singing,” “What Will Your Answer Be?,” and many, many others we have sung in worship. As a teenager, I was awed and thought of him as the epitome of longevity. Brother Teddlie lived to be 102.
But as a preacher, my picture of an enduring “legend” among preachers is Perry Cotham. About the time I remember the birthday celebration for brother Teddlie, the church where my dad preached had brother Cotham for a gospel meeting. The Texas evangelist had to be in his early 70s, and as such already ancient in my young mind. I heard tales of his mission trips to India, Malaysia, and Thailand. He told of his debates with Pentecostals and others. His lessons were filled with Bible and interesting stories. I have maintained contact with him through the years and have spoken with him on several programs. In 2008, we were together in Calaveras County, California, preaching at a campground (the late William Woodson was also there; we roomed together at the same house). He was 96 at the time, and after hearing his preaching all weekend two adult women responded to be baptized. My last information is that brother Cotham is still preaching, though his health has declined. He is 100 years old!
As much as I enjoy baseball, I love preaching. As great as Moyer’s feat was, brother Cotham’s eclipses it. What a reminder to us that it is not our age, but our willingness to keep on going however long we have serving the Lord with all of our might!