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Gaylord Perry Dies at Age 84; MLB Hall of Famer Won 2 Cy Young Awards

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured Columnist IVDecember 1, 2022

UNDATED:  Pitcher Gaylord Perry #36 of the San Francisco Giants poses for a portrait. Perry played for the Giants from 1962-1971. (Photo by Louis Requena/MLB via Getty Images)
Louis Requena/MLB via Getty Images

Two-time Cy Young award winner Gaylord Perry died Thursday at the age of 84, according to the Associated Press.

He died of natural causes.

Perry went 314-265 with a 3.11 in his 22 MLB seasons, which was split across eight different teams. His longest spell came with the San Francisco Giants, where he spent his first 10 years in the majors.

His 37.0 WAR is the seventh-highest mark for a Giants pitcher, per Baseball Reference.

Perry's first Cy Young came with the Cleveland Guardians in 1972. He led the American League in wins (24) and complete games (29) while posting a 2.50 FIP.

In 1978, the right-hander became the oldest Cy Young winner ever when he collected the award after turning 40. Roger Clemens eventually passed him in 2004 at 42 years old.

"Before I won my second Cy Young I thought I was too old—I didn’t think the writers would vote for me," he told Alex Coffey for the Baseball Hall of Fame's official site. "But they voted on my performance, so I won it."

Perry also became the first player to win the Cy Young in both the American and National Leagues.

The five-time All-Star is perhaps most remembered for doctoring baseballs, admitting in his 1974 autobiography Me and the Spitter he used various substances to alter the ball.

Perry also used his reputation to get into the heads of opposing batters when he wasn't on the mound.

"The day before I'd pitch, I'd put grease on my hands and go shake their hands just to get them thinking," he said, per ESPN.com's Derek Zumsteg. "Sometimes I'd roll a ball covered with grease into their dugout."

Zumsteg explained how Perry "concealed Brylcreem in his hair, Vaseline on a locket he'd wear around his neck, his hat, anywhere he could manage."

Bobby Murcer, a five-time All-Star who played for three teams, told the Washington Post's Thomas Boswell in 1982 that Perry's "hard spitter" was "the only absolutely unhittable pitch I've seen in my whole career."

"I'd rather face a 500 mile-per-hour fast ball than that 85-mph spitter Perry used to have," Murcer said. "At least then I'd have a chance."

Perry was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame with 77.2 percent of the vote in 1991, his third year on the ballot.