Perrys Leave Mark in Baseball

perry brothers game on2by Thad Mumau

There are only two brothers who have both won Cy Young Awards, and they are from North Carolina. Jim and Gaylord Perry were born and grew up in Williamston, which is about       30 miles northeast of Greenville.

The Perrys, both right-handers, combined for 529 major league victories, 10 fewer than the major league record for brothers owned by the knuckleballing Niekros, Phil and Joe.
Sons of a sharecropper, Jim and Gaylord were plowing fields behind mules by the time they were       5 or 6 years old. Their family grew tobacco, corn and peanuts and got to keep half of the money the crops brought in.

When the boys could get away, they played baseball wherever they could find a game. They were fortunate that their father not only allowed them time to play but encouraged it.
Because Evan Perry loved baseball, too. He had played it well enough to catch the eye of big league scouts and had the chance to sign a pro contract. The father and sons even played together occasionally in sandlot games.

Jim and Gaylord were sports stars at Williamston High, teaming up to lead the school to the state finals in basketball and baseball. Jim went on to Campbell College (now Campbell University) and pitched so well that the Buies Creek school named its baseball stadium for him.

Jim, who is 80, signed with Cleveland and had a 12-10 record as a rookie in 1959. After four years with the Indians, he was traded to Minnesota.

He spent 10 years with the Twins, reaching the pinnacle of his 17-year-career when he had back-to-back 20-win seasons. Jim was 20-6 in 1969 and 24-12 with a 3.04 earned run average in 1970, when he was voted the American League Cy Young Award as the best pitcher in the league.

Jim pitched the 1973 season for Detroit, returned to Cleveland the next year to win 17 games at the age of 38 and finished up his career in Oakland.

Gaylord was the better known pitching Perry. He was more outgoing, quotable and he kept himself in the news, not only winning ballgames but throwing the outlawed spitball. He sometimes admitted throwing a “loaded up” baseball, sometimes denied it and always said just putting the idea in batters’ heads gave him an advantage.

Gaylord, now 78, came up with San Francisco in 1962. He spent 10 years with the Giants, going 21-8 in 1966 and 23-13 in 1970.
Traded to Cleveland, he posted a 24-10 record with a 1.92 ERA in 343 innings in 1972, earning the American League Cy Young Award. He pitched          29 complete games for the first of two straight seasons.

Moving on to San Diego, he went 21-6 with a 2.73 for the Padres in 1973, winning the National League Cy Young Award and making him one of only five pitchers to receive the honor in both leagues.

Gaylord, who also pitched for the Texas Rangers (two different times), New York Yankees, Atlanta Braves, Seattle Mariners and Kansas City Royals, was a real workhorse. He closed out his career at the age of 44.

He threw 5,350 innings over a career that spanned 22 years, pitching more than 300 innings in a season six times. His 314-265 record earned him a plaque in the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown.

In 1970, Williamston held a day for the Perry brothers. Barbecue and brunswick stew were served in the high school gym, and a planned parade was called off because of rain. The real treat, of course, was all the old baseball stories.

Those Perry boys have a bunch of them.