Gaylord Perry, a Baseball Hall of Famer who won 314 games in a 22-season career, died Thursday morning, the Cherokee County (South Carolina) Coroners Office confirmed.
Perry was 84.
Perry, a colorful personality best known for his alleged application of spit and foreign substances to the baseballs he threw for eight MLB teams, was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1991. He pitched in 777 major leagues, totaling 5,350 innings pitched. He compiled a 314-265 record with a 3.11 ERA and 3,534 strikeouts.
Perry was accused of using all sorts of illegal substances, most commonly saliva but also petroleum products such as Vaseline and K-Y Jelly and even the hair cream Brylcreem, to get more movement on his pitches, none of which he denied.
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‘I reckon I tried everything on the old apple but salt and pepper and chocolate sauce topping,’ Perry once said.
In his memoir ‘Me and the Spitter,’ Perry wrote, ‘I’d always have it (grease) in at least two places, in case the umpires would ask me to wipe one off. I never wanted to be caught out there with anything, though. It wouldn’t be professional.’
“Gaylord Perry was a consistent workhorse and a memorable figure in his Hall of Fame career, highlighted by his 314 wins and 3,534 strikeouts in 22 years,’ said commissioner Rob Manfred in a statement. ‘He will be remembered among the most accomplished San Francisco Giants ever, and through his time in Cleveland and San Diego, he became the first pitcher ever to win the Cy Young Award in both the American and National Leagues. The five-time 20-game winner pitched for eight different Clubs overall and remained a popular teammate and friend throughout his life.’
Born in Williamston, North Carolina, on Sept. 15, 1938, he briefly attended Campell Junior College in Buies Creek, North Carolina, before signing in 1958 with the San Francisco Giants. He made his major league debut in 1962 with the team and spent 10 seasons there, six times winning at least 15 games and twice winning more than 20.
Perry was traded to the Cleveland Indians after the 1971 season. He spent 3 1/2 seasons there, twice winning 20 or more games before being traded to the Texas Rangers in 1975. He won 42 games there before being traded to San Diego in February in 1978, when he had his last great season, winning 21 games and finishing with a 2.73 ERA.
He spent one more season in San Diego, then became a bit of a journeyman for the remained of his career, pitching for Texas again and then the New York Yankees in 1980, the Atlanta Braves (1981), the Seattle Mariners (1982-83) and Kansas City Royals (1983) before retiring at age 45.