Gaylord Perry, the Hall of Fame pitcher whose mastery of the spitball bedeviled batters and made him a two-time Cy Young award winner, has died.
Perry, who logged 314 wins for eight different teams during a 22-year career that began in 1962, was 84. Elected to the Hall of Fame in 1991, Perry and his brother, Jim Perry, combined for 529 wins, second among brother combinations only to knuckleballers Phil and Joe Niekro.
RIP Gaylord Perry
His explanation of the spitball was channeled by Eddie Harris in Major League
— McNeil (@Reflog_18) December 1, 2022
Perry broke into the big leagues with the San Francisco Giants on a roster loaded with future Cooperstown peers, including Willie Mays, Willie McCovey, Juan Marichal, and Orlando Cepeda. He won 20 or more games four times, including his Cy Young seasons with Cleveland in 1972 and with San Diego in 1978 at age 40.
“Before I won my second Cy Young I thought I was too old — I didn’t think the writers would vote for me,” Perry said in an article on the National Baseball Hall of Fame website. “But they voted on my performance, so I won it.”
While Perry had a good fastball and wicked curveball, he was best known for his spitball, where saliva on the ball affects its movement and rotation. His 1974 autobiography was titled “Me and the Spitter.” In the book, Perry wrote that he learned the pitch from Giants teammate Bob Shaw, and first threw it in 1964 against the New York Mets. He pitched 10 shutout innings in the game and was soon elevated to the starting rotation.
Perry said he chewed slippery elm bark to build up his saliva to throw the pitch, which he claims he abandoned in 1968 after a league crackdown. He said he turned to other substances, including Vaseline, to put spin on the ball, but said his ritual of touching different parts of his jersey was as much to psych out hitters into thinking he was applying a foreign substance as it was to actually doctor the ball.
When Perry retired, he was 11th on the all-time wins list and had the third most strikeouts (3,534), behind Steve Carlton and Nolan Ryan.
After his career, Perry founded the baseball program at Limestone College in Gaffney, S.C., and was its coach for the first three years.
Perry leaves behind his ex-wife, Carol Caggiano, and four children. His older brother, Jim, is 87.
Go to Source Gaylord Perry, Baseball Hall Of Fame And Master Of The Spitball, Dead At 84
December 1, 2022