2 minute read

Gaylord Perry Biography

Minor Setbacks, Chronology, The Spitball Artist, Time Catches Up With A Pitcher, Awards And AccomplishmentsSELECTED WRITINGS BY PERRY:


American baseball player

Gaylord Perry

Gaylord Perry has held many distinctions—in 1982, he was the oldest player in the major leagues; he was also the fifteenth pitcher in the game's history to record 300 lifetime victories. He's played in All-Star games representing both the American and National leagues, taken home two Cy Young Awards (the first player to do so in both leagues), and in 1991 was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. But if the right-hander were remembered in no other way, Perry could well go down in baseball history as the "king of the spitballs."

A native of Williamston, North Carolina, Perry was preceded in birth by his brother, Jim, who also ended up in the Major Leagues. The young family resided in a tenant farming community, where the baseball-happy brothers spent their after-school time either harvesting in the fields or practicing their pitches. "We just pitched until we got tired," Perry later wrote in his book, Me and the Spitter: An Autobiographical Confession "And a desire to win just developed naturally. I believe the long hot hours in the fields gave Jim and me a physical and mental discipline that has helped us on the mound."

Perry was introduced to organized ball in high school. As a member of the Williamston High team in his freshman year, he threw two shutouts on the way to winning the state championship. The youngster continued to develop over the next few years; by the time he was a junior, Perry had completed five no-hitters and allowed not a single earned run. Lured to the semipros before his senior year, Perry played in Alpine, Texas, where he developed some new moves, including his curve and a side-arm delivery. On his graduation in 1958, Perry was signed by the San Francisco Giants for what was then a record amount for a rookie: $91,000. He quickly sent $30,000 to his parents to help them pay for their home, devastated by a hurricane a year earlier.


Me and the Spitter: An Autobiographical Confession, Saturday Review Press, 1974.



(With Bob Sudyk) Me and the Spitter: An Autobiographical Confession. Saturday Review Press, 1974.


Callahan, Tom." As Good as Anyone Ever." Time. (August 22, 1983).

"Dark Prophecy." Sports Illustrated. (July 19, 1993).

Wulf, Steve. "Commotion in the Hall." Sports Illustrated. (January 21, 1991).

Sketch by Susan Salter

Additional topics

Famous Sports StarsBaseball