When Gaylord Perry Came to the Mariners
Gaylord Perry, who won his 300th game while pitching for the Seattle Mariners in 1982, will throw out the ceremonial first pitch before the Mariners vs. Los Angeles Angels game on Friday, May 25. Game time is 7:10pm.
In 1982, the Seattle Mariners headed to spring training in Tempe, AZ, with three good young starting pitchers.
- Lefty Floyd Bannister, a local product, who went on to lead the American League in strikeouts that year.
- Jim Beattie, who in his third season with the Mariners in 1982 went on to post a fine 3.34 ERA.
- Then-rookie Mike Moore, who was the number one overall pick in baseball’s 1981 draft.
Mariners President Dan O’Brien was looking for a veteran starter who could round out the rotation. Several days after pitchers and catchers reported to camp, the Mariners reached an agreement with Gaylord Perry on March 5, who agreed to a unique month-to-month contract for the 1982 season. But the big story was that Gaylord needed just three wins to reach the 300 milestone for career victories, and that he would bring excitement to the Mariners organization.
Manager Rene Lachemann had introduced a new conditioning concept to the Mariners and baseball at the start of training camp that season, and hired Teresa Scanlon, a tiny Phoenix-area aerobics instructor, to put the team through its paces at the start of each day’s workout. Everyone in camp (players, news media, fans) anxiously awaited the arrival of the 43-year Perry to see what his response would be to the then “cutting edge” conditioning program. In addition to seeing Gaylord in action, there was a question if he would ask for special treatment and not have to do the aerobics routine.
The Mariners team going through the morning aerobics made both local and national news, so the wily Gaylord was aware of it. And on the first day he reported to old Diablo Stadium in Tempe (his 21st Major League training camp) he smiled and told the assembled group of reporters that he and his wife had been doing a TV exercise program at home in North Carolina all winter and that he would join the team’s regular workout.
Sure enough, Gaylord marched out to right field with the entire spring training roster of players, and with music blaring in the background, there he was twisting and turning and dancing and spinning his way through the session……at about half-speed, mind you.
Lach was very pleased, however, no matter what speed it was. Remember that this was his first full season as a big league manager, and he was seven years younger than Gaylord. “Gaylord could have put me in a tough position as a manager. As a 20-year veteran, he could have easily asked not to participate, and tested me. But he didn’t. He took part in the aerobics program, albeit at a much slower pace. It made my job a lot easier at the time. And I appreciated that.”
And two months later, on a Thursday night in Seattle, May 6, 1982, Gaylord Jackson Perry fired that memorable complete-game 7-3 victory over the New York Yankees at the Kingdome, to become the first 300-game winner since Early Wynn in 1963.
Gaylord went on to post a 10-12 record in 1982, as the Mariners, now in the franchise’s sixth season, enjoyed their best finish, with 76 wins and a fourth (of seven) place finish in the American League West.
Here are some fun news releases from the early 80’s when Gaylord first signed with the Mariners: