The oldest player to take the mound in MLB history was Satchel Paige, at the age of 59. But, in an MLB Partner League known as the Atlantic League, a 48-year-old Brandeis alum recently took the mound. Nelson Figueroa ’98, who “played 9 seasons in MLB, last pitching professionally in 2014,” pitched a complete game for the Staten Island FerryHawks on Aug. 9.
Figueroa, who was drafted by the New York Mets after his junior season at Brandeis in 1995, played professional baseball for a total of 18 seasons before retiring. Notably, Figueroa is the only Brandeis alum to make it to the MLB, where he played for a total of six different teams; he also played on the Puerto Rico team that won a silver medal in 2013 World Baseball Classic. Figueroa was recently inducted into the Brandeis Hall of Fame and was the “first baseball team alum to have his Brandeis number retired.”
Just last month, though, Figueroa played in a professional game for the first time in years. He currently serves as a pitching coach for the Staten Island FerryHawks, and they were in desperate need of a starting pitcher for a double header against the Gastonia Honey Hunters. Figueroa stepped up and threw 119 pitches for the FerryHawks.
Although the FerryHawks lost, Figueroa played well. Over a complete game, he allowed 10 hits, eight earned runs and threw four strikeouts. For his first start out of retirement, and his first professional game in nearly a decade, the Brandeis alum’s Atlantic League debut was a success.