The legendary Gaylord Perry died this week at age 84. Along with his brother Jim, also a successful major league pitcher, he was raised in North Carolina back when boys used to work at the farm rather than play video games.
From 1962 to 1983, he pitched in the majors and did some pretty amazing things: 314 wins, 2-time Cy Young Award winner, a no-hitter, 4-time 20 games winner, an amazing 3.11 ERA over 5,350 innings and 3,534 strikeouts. Like Nolan Ryan, Gaylord Perry did not play for good teams so his overall record has to be understood in that context. His only post-season appearance was in 1971 with the Giants.
However, his greatest accomplishment was completing games, or a rarity these days of counting pitches and computer statistics. He completed 303 games of the 690 that he started. Talk about not seeing that again. Of course, all of these numbers put him in The Hall of Fame in 1991.
Of course, Gaylord kept the baseball world talking about his famous “spitter” or the pitch that he allegedly threw to get by in the major leagues.
I don’t know whether he threw a lot of spitballs, but the batters said yes. Back in the 1972 All Star Game, Henry Aaron hit a HR off Perry and said: “The pitch I hit off him was a spitter. It wasn’t one of his best spitters, but it was a spitter..”