Gaylord Perry, Hall of Fame pitcher and former Texas Ranger, died this morning, it has been reported. Perry was 84.
Perry had a fascinating career, breaking in with the San Francisco Giants in 1962, but splitting time between the bullpen and the rotation until 1966, his age 27 year, when he finally became a full time starter while also making his first All Star team. Perry spent his first ten seasons with the Giants before being traded to the Cleveland Indians for hard-throwing lefty Sam McDowell. Though McDowell was four years younger than Perry, he was essentially done as an effective pitcher after the trade, while Perry pitched another 12 seasons in the majors and won two Cy Young Awards.
The Rangers acquired Perry from the Indians in the middle of the 1975 season, landing him in exchange for pitchers Jim Bibby, Rick Waits, and Jackie Brown, as well as $100,000. After two and a half quality seasons for Texas, Perry was dealt by the Rangers to San Diego in January, 1978, for Dave Tomlin and $125,000. Perry won the National League Cy Young Award in 1978, and after two seasons with the Padres, the Rangers re-acquired him prior to the 1980 season in a four player deal after Perry had left the Padres in September, 1979, saying he wanted to return to Texas. Later that year, with Perry slated to be a free agent after the season, Texas dealt him to the Yankees for Ken Clay.
After his stint with the Yankees, Perry spent time with the Atlanta Braves, the Seattle Mariners, and the Kansas City Royals, finally retiring after the 1983 season. Perry finished his career with 314 wins, 5350 innings pitched (6th most of all time), 3534 strikeouts (8th highest of all time), and a 93.0 bWAR (13th highest of all time among pitchers). He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1991, his third year on the ballot, with 77.2% of the vote.
Perry was known as one of the great characters in baseball, having a reputation for throwing a spitball that led to his 1974 autobiography being titled “Me and the Spitter.” While Perry no doubt did load up the ball from time to time, as much as anything, his willingness to play up that reputation was as much as anything a psychological ploy to get in batters heads by making them think he was throwing it more than he actually did.