One of the all-time greats, SP Gaylord Perry, finalized his Hall of Fame resume on this day in history in 1982 with the Seattle Mariners.
Though his stop was brief in Seattle, exactly 32 years ago today on May 6, the Mariners beat the New York Yankees 7-3 at the Kingdome. It was Perry’s 300th career win, making him only the 15th player in the illustrious history of MLB to accomplish the feat, and the first since Early Wynn won No. 300 with the Cleveland Indians in 1963. In the 32 years since Perry etched his name in history, only nine MLB pitchers have reciprocated his success and won 300 games.
Perry was no doubt in the twilight of his career during his time in Seattle, but May 6 of 1982 was memorable for a number of reasons. Upon culmination of the last Yankee hitter being retired in the game, legendary Mariners broadcaster Dave Niehaus made his trademark “My, oh my!” remark to emphasize the personal accomplishment of Perry and his 300th win.
Another interesting anecdote regarding that game, is that it was Perry himself still on the mound when the final out in the ball game was recorded in the top of the ninth inning. Perry himself was 43 years old at the time, and had just pitched a complete game to notch the victory.
The only player to homer off him in the game was Ken Griffey Sr., who years later would become more famous as a Mariner for being one of the first father-and-son tandems, along with son Ken Griffey Jr., to play together on the same team in the Major Leagues. Griffey Jr., of course, would go on to be arguably the greatest player to ever lace up cleats in a Mariners uniform.
But back to Perry. Well over the hill during his 1982 campaign, Perry logged 216.2 IP that year. He went 10-12 with a 4.40 ERA, but most impressive perhaps was after already spending the better part of two decades in MLB, on two separate occasions in the ’82 season, Perry logged 10 or more innings pitched in a single outing. This day in age, that is unheard of. Even for a young, spry pitcher in their early twenties.
Perry retired after the 1983 season, having started 48 games as a Mariner. In his 22-year career, Perry was a 5x All-Star and 2x Cy Young winner who recorded a no-hitter on Sept. 17, 1968 as a member of the San Francisco Giants, which has since retired his No. 36 jersey. He finished with a career record of 314-265, an ERA of 3.11 and 3,534 strikeouts.
During an era when Tommy John surgery did not exist, Perry logged more than 300 innings in a single season six times in his career, something in the high 200’s his benchmark. That number is something that will truly boggle the modern day baseball fan, as a resourceful season for a starting pitcher in the 21st century is anything over 200 innings pitched.
One of the most durable and successful pitchers of the 20th century, Perry will be remembered for perhaps his finest hour when he wore a Mariners jersey, as Niehaus’ voice rang across the airwaves of King County radios on that day in May.