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List of Major League Baseball players who played in four decades

Playing Major League Baseball in four decades has been 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.[1] For example, Pete Rose started his career in 1963, so he would have 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). Only 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. There is no current active player who played in the 1990s, though Rick Ankiel, who first pitched in 1999, has expressed a desire to return to pitching in the Majors).

List of playersEdit

The players are listed by primary position played and years spanning their careers. Ten players from the group have been inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame. 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 Position First season Last season
Dan Brouthers  First baseman 1879 1904
Jim O'Rourke  Outfielder 1872 1904
Kid Gleason Pitcher / Second baseman 1888 1912
Deacon McGuire Catcher 1884 1912
Jack O'Connor Catcher 1887 1912
Jack Ryan Catcher 1889 1913
Nick Altrock Pitcher 1898 1933
Eddie Collins  Second baseman 1906 1930
Jack Quinn Pitcher 1909 1933
Bobo Newsom Pitcher 1929 1953
Mickey Vernon First baseman 1939 1960
Ted Williams  Outfielder 1939 1960
Early Wynn  Pitcher 1939 1963
Minnie Miñoso Outfielder 1949 1980
Jim Kaat Pitcher 1959 1983
Tim McCarver Catcher 1959 1980
Willie McCovey  First baseman 1959 1980
Bill Buckner First baseman 1969 1990
Rick Dempsey Catcher 1969 1992
Carlton Fisk  Catcher 1969 1993
Jerry Reuss Pitcher 1969 1990
Nolan Ryan  Pitcher 1966 1993
Rickey Henderson  Outfielder 1979 2003
Mike Morgan Pitcher 1978 2002
Jesse Orosco Pitcher 1979 2003
Tim Raines  Outfielder 1979 2002
Ken Griffey Jr.  Outfielder 1989 2010
Jamie Moyer Pitcher 1986 2012
Omar Vizquel Shortstop 1989 2012


  1. ^ DiComo, Anthony (January 20, 2010). "Four-decade players a rare breed: Griffey, Vizquel, Moyer set to join exclusive company".

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