On This Date in Sports August 23, 1982

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Gaylord Perry a journeyman pitcher, with a reputation for throwing an illegal spitball, gets ejected for the first time in his 21-year career. Now pitching with the Seattle Mariners Perry who had won his 300th game in May long teased that he threw a spitball, but was never caught. Facing the Boston Red Sox at the Kingdome, when he is ejected by Umpire Dave Phillips, who noticed a funny on the ball.

Gaylord Perry was born on September 15, 1938, and raised on a peanut farm in North Carolina. He played baseball at Campbell University who later named their mascot Gaylord the Camel in his honor. Gaylord Perry reached the majors in 1962 with the San Francisco Giants. After struggling in his first two seasons, Perry learned how to throw a spitball in 1964 from teammate Bob Shaw. Perry would finish the 1964 season with a record of 12-11, posting an ERA of 2.75. Two years later he won 21 games and was an All-Star for the first time in his career. Gaylord Perry would spend ten seasons with the Giants, posting a record of 134-109, with a 2.96 ERA. In 1968, he threw his only No Hitter, while his finest season was in 1970 when he won a league high 23 games and finished second in Cy Young voting.

Following the 1971 season, Gaylord Perry was traded to the Cleveland Indians for Sam McDowell. The deal was a disaster for the Giants, as McDowell struggled in San Francisco, while Gaylord Perry seemed to get better with age. In his first season, with Cleveland Gaylord Perry had the best year of his career, posting a record of 24-16 with a 1.92 ERA and 234 strikeouts to win his first Cy Young Award. With his brother Jim Perry winning a Cy Young with the Minnesota Twins two earlier, the Perrys became the first siblings to win baseball’s highest individual pitching award. In four seasons with the Tribe, Perry posted a record of 70-57 with a 2.71 ERA.

After feuding with Manager Frank Robinson, Gaylord Perry was traded to the Texas Rangers on June 13, 1975, for three pitchers and cash, where he spent parts of three seasons posting a record of 42-39. Gaylord Perry was on the move again before the 1978 season as he was dealt with the San Diego Padres for Dave Tomlin. Now a crafty veteran nearing his 40th birthday, Perry defied the experts and had another great season, posting a record of 21-6 with an ERA of 2.73 to become the first pitcher to win the Cy Young in both the American and National League. Following a 12-9 season in 1979, Gaylord Perry was traded back to Texas in a multiplayer deal for Willie Montanez.

Struggling through most of the 1980 season, Gaylord Perry was holding a 6-9 record with a 3.43 ERA when he was sent to the New York Yankees in an August trade. Over the last six weeks of the season, Perry posted a record of 4-4 as the Yankees won the American League East, but did not pitch in the ALCS. In fact, Gaylord Perry made just two postseason appearances in his career, splitting a pair of games with the Giants in the 1971 NLCS against the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Needing 11 wins to reach 300, Gaylord Perry signed a one-year contract to play with the Atlanta Braves in 1981 but finished with an 8-9 record as he lost his chance at history due to a two-month player’s strike. After struggling to find a team all winter, Gaylord Perry signed with the Seattle Mariners at the start of Spring Training. The franchise that through its first five seasons struggled to find any notoriety got what they asked for on May 6th, as Perry beat the New York Yankees 7-3 at the Kingdome for his 300th win, becoming the first pitcher to reach the milestone in 19 years.


By the time, Gaylord Perry was caught doctoring the baseball three months later, he long had the reputation for loading up the baseball. In 1974 he released a book about throwing spit balls but never revealed how he did it. Gaylord Perry even once approached Vaseline about doing product endorsements. Sometimes he genuinely loaded up the baseball and sometimes he just touched his hair, eyebrows, and cap to psyche out a batter thinking he was throwing a spitter. Another frequent trick, of Gaylord Perry, was the Puffball where he loaded his hand with rosin, which caused the ball to release a cloud of dust when it left his hand. After he was caught and ejected in a 4-3 loss to the Red Sox, Gaylord Perry was suspended ten games by the American League.

Gaylord Perry would play one more season, finishing the 1983 season with the Kansas City Royals after being released in Seattle. He would finish his career with a record of 314-265 with an ERA of 3.11. In the latter days of his career, Perry surpassed Walter Johnson’s 3,506 strikeouts which stood as the record for more than half a century as he ranked third in strikeouts at the time of his retirement with 3,534 Ks. In 1991, his third year of eligibility Gaylord Perry was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame. An election that was not universally hailed. Longtime Manager, Gene Mauch scoffed that “They should put a tube of K-Y Jelly on the plaque” for all the grease balls and spitballs, he had thrown.