Hall of Fame pitcher Gaylord Perry, who won his 300th game while pitching for the Seattle Mariners, regaled Mariners RBI Club members and season ticket holders today with stories from his playing days.
Perry is in Seattle to throw out tonight’s ceremonial first pitch as part of the Mariners season-long tribute to the club’s 35th Anniversary. He spoke to a standing room only crowd at the Safeco Field Terrace Club at noon today, prodded by former teammate Dave Henderson.
Here are some of the lines that had the crowd laughing:
- “Don’t throw at a guy who’s going to charge the mound.”
- On the aerobic training program manager Rene Lachemann introduced in Spring Training 1982 to get the team in shape, “I was watching the teacher most of the time.”
- On pitching against his brother, Jim: “I pitched two games against my brother. I had to knock him down because he came a little close to Mays (as in Willie). I did not lose to him, as I recall.”
- On throwing the spitball: “If I gave the hitter the impression I was putting something on it it might help me out. I don’t recall doing it at all.”
- Perry, who amassed 314 wins in his 22-year MLB career, when asked how he won so many games: “I had Mays, McCovey and Cepeda in the lineup (with the San Francisco Giants). I knew if I could stay in it long enough, I’d win a lot of games.”
- The “most embarrassing moment of my career”: “Bob Uecker hit a home run off me. When I came back to the bench, my teammates wouldn’t even sit next to me, in case it rubbed off on them.” The sting was eased somewhat when Uecker eventually hit one off Fergie Jenkins, and two off Sandy Koufax, fellow Hall of Famers.
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:
Former Mariners pitcher Roy Thomas, who had an eight-year Major League career with the Houston Astros, St. Louis Cardinals and Seattle Mariners, will throw out the ceremonial first pitch before Tuesday’s game against the Texas Rangers, part of the Mariners season-long celebration of the franchise’s 35th Anniversary.
Thomas, who had a lifetime 20-11 record, pitched for the Mariners from 1983-1985 and again in 1987. He retired after the 1987 season.
Since them, Thomas worked on his college degree, and an advanced degree, and for the past 10 years has been a middle school science and math teacher in the Federal Way School District.
Thomas tapped the MLB program that pays for a college education for any player who is signed. He took classes in the offseason, when he wasn’t playing winter ball. Thomas finished up his undergraduate degree at UW-Bothell in 1991, about 20-years after he started. He received his master’s in teaching certification a few years later.
In addition to teaching, Thomas also coaches basketball and J.V. baseball. Thomas says over the years, his players have figured out he was a Major Leaguer. “Some of them Googled me. Some of them are really interested and they appreciate my experience,” said Thomas.
For the last five years, Thomas has taught and coached at Illahee Middle School in Federal Way. Thomas says “teaching is the most difficult job I have ever had. Playing wasn’t a job.” Thomas was also an administrator for one of his parent’s adult care homes in California for two years, a job he describes as 24 hours a day, seven days a week. But “teaching work tops them both.”
At the end of the school year, he’ll be moving to Beaverton. He and his wife bought a home there, where she’s working for Intel. For now, Thomas is commuting to Oregon on weekends and staying with the Kwan family, longtime friends, in Bellevue. His future in Oregon could include a career change, but Thomas says he’s not sure what that might be. He says “I think I will look for a job maybe where I don’t have to do so much homework.”
Thomas told his players last week that he was going to be throwing out the ceremonial first pitch at Safeco Field and took some practice throws. Thomas will miss his J.V. baseball game on Tuesday for the honor.
It is kind of ironic that a day after White Sox starter Philip Humber threw the 21st perfect game in baseball history, we get a chance to revisit the second no-hitter in Mariners history.
On this date 20 years ago (April 22, 1993), Chris Bosio threw the second no-hitter in Mariners history, beating the Boston Red Sox 7-0 in the Kingdome. Bosio walked the first two batters, then tossed a double play ball to start a string of 26 straight batters retired to end the game.
Former Seattle Mariners outfielder Ruppert Jones, the first player selected by the Mariners in the 1976 MLB Expansion Draft, will throw out the ceremonial first pitch before the Mariners vs. Chicago White Sox game tomorrow at Safeco Field.
Jones was invited back to Seattle as part of the Mariners 35th Anniversary celebration, a season-long tribute to the franchise’s history in which former Mariners are welcomed back to Seattle for special appearances and promotions at Safeco Field.
Jones was the Mariners first All-Star in 1977 . His best season for the Mariners came in 1979 when he set career highs in runs (109), RBI (78), hits (166), triples (9) and stolen bases (33). He played in every game that season.
During an 11-year Major League career, Jones played for the Kansas City Royals, Mariners, New York Yankees, San Diego Padres, Detroit Tigers and California Angels. He also played one season in Japan for the Hanshin Tigers in 1988.
Announcer Ken Wilson, who was calling Mariners games during Ruppert’s time with the Mariners, is looking forward to seeing him back in Seattle:
Friday’s game is also Ichiro Bobblehead Night. The first 20,000 fans will receive an Ichiro bobblehead courtesy of ROOT SPORTS.