Gaylord Perry (born September 15, 1938 in Williamston, North Carolina) is a former right-handed pitcher in Major League Baseball and a member of the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Notorious for doctoring baseballs (throwing a spitball), Perry won 314 games over a 22-year career starting in 1962. A five-time All-Star, he was the first pitcher to win the Cy Young Award in each league, winning it in 1972 with the Cleveland Indians and in 1978 with the San Diego Padres. He is also distinguished, along with his brother Jim, for being the second-winningest brother combination in baseball history--second only to the knuckleballing Niekro brothers, Phil and Joe. While pitching for the Seattle Mariners, Perry defeated the New York Yankees on May 6, 1982 to become the fifteenth member of the 300 win club for pitchers, but the first since Early Wynn did it in 1963. In 1983, he became the third pitcher in the same year to surpass longtime strikeout king Walter Johnson's record of 3,509 strikeouts. Steve Carlton and Nolan Ryan were the others.
Despite Perry's notoriety for doctoring baseballs--he even went so far as to title his autobiography Me and the Spitter--(co-authored by Cleveland baseball newspaper writer Bob Sudyk) he wouldn't be ejected for the illegal practice until August 23, 1982, in his 21st season in the majors. Perry also reportedly approached the makers of Vaseline about endorsing the product and was allegedly rebuffed with a one-line postcard reading, "We soothe babies' backsides, not baseballs." Like most pitchers, Perry was not renowned for his hitting ability, and in his sophomore season of 1963, he is said to have joked, "They'll put a man on the moon before I hit a home run." On July 20, 1969, just minutes after the Apollo 11 spacecraft carrying Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin landed on the moon, Perry hit the first home run of his career.
Perry retired in 1983 after pitching for eight teams (the San Francisco Giants, Cleveland Indians, Texas Rangers, San Diego Padres, New York Yankees, Atlanta Braves, Seattle Mariners and Kansas City Royals).
Despite his admission of illegal pitches, he was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1991 and was nominated as a finalist for the Major League Baseball All-Century Team. In 1999, The Sporting News placed him on their list of the 100 Greatest Baseball Players, but despite 314 victories and 3,534 strikeouts, questions about his pitches may have been responsible for his being ranked only Number 97.
On July 23, 2005, the San Francisco Giants retired his uniform number 36.
At Candlestick Park on September 17, 1968, two days after his 30th birthday, Perry, then a Giant, pitched a 1-0 no-hitter against the St. Louis Cardinals and Bob Gibson. The Cardinals returned the favor on the Giants on Ray Washburn's 2-0 no-hitter the very next day. Perry was part of a terrible trade - San Diego acquired him from Texas before the 1978 season in exchange for middle reliever Dave Tomlin and $125,000. The 39-year-old Perry wound up winning the Cy Young Award going 21-6 for San Diego while the 29-year-old Tomlin never pitched for Texas and pitched barely 150 innings the rest of his career.