Tuesday, November 29, 2011

DAHOF Top 100 -- #100 Gaylord Perry

You want to attempt a fun baseball related mental exercise ?

Sit down with a pen and blank piece of paper and without any aid, list your top 100 favorite baseball players of all time. I tried it recently and had a lot of entertainment thoughtfully shuffling through my memory bank looking for players I enjoyed. Of course, this exercise also germinated an idea for a new series of posts. There are roughly 95 days until the start of spring training, I hope to complete this undertaking before the start of the new season.

Lets get started...

On August 16th, 1920 Cleveland Indians shortstop Ray Chapman was struck in the temple by a ball thrown by the Yankees Carl Mays. He died on the spot. An investigation into his death showed contributing factors included the lack of protection for his head, a poorly illuminated ballpark, and a dirty and altered baseball.

A spitball moves atypically because of it has been altered by some foreign substance, typically saliva or petroleum jelly. After the 1920 season, partly in response to Chapman's death, the league owners voted to ban the "spitball" (although they did exempt and grandfather 16 pitchers).

Eighteen years later, the most famous spit-baller ever, a guy named Gaylord Perry was born. He claims he was taught the pitch in 1964, and he quickly developed a reputation for doctoring baseballs and throwing the illegal pitch. So paranoid were his baseball opponents, he was constantly monitored and inspected, often right on the pitching mound by umpires. The fact is - it wasn't until his 21st season in the majors (August 23, 1982) that he was actually ejected from a game for doctoring the ball.

As a kid, I used to love watching Perry pitch. He had a whole series of hat touches and gyrations designed to psyche out hitters. Apparently, it worked because he was a five time all star, won the Cy Young Award in both leagues, won 314 games and was inducted in the the Hall of Fame in 1991. My favorite memory of Perry is his 300th win in 1982 as a member of the Seattle Mariners.


Jim said...

Great idea and I'm really looking forward to this series.

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