On this date in Texas Rangers history, the man who wrote the book, ‘Me and the Spitter’ easily bested the Boston Red Sox and continued to build his Hall of Fame credentials.
On May 5, 1980, Gaylord Perry threw a complete-game eight-hitter in defeating the Red Sox, 11-3. Perry struck out five and walked one. The day was a huge one at the plate for second baseman Bump Wills, who went 4-for-4 for the Rangers, scoring three runs. Third baseman Buddy Bell hit a double, a home run, and drove in three runs.
By this point, Perry was considered one of the game’s best pitchers. He had already become the first to win the Cy Young award in both leagues (with Cleveland in 1972 and with San Diego in 1978). Despite that, he was one of the most oft-traveled 300-game winners in MLB history, as he played for eight different teams in a 22-season career that saw him win 314 games.
Along with the Baseball Hall of Fame, Perry is in the San Francisco Giants Wall of Fame, the Cleveland Hall of Fame, and the Texas Rangers Hall of Fame. The Giants retired his number.
It seems like an accident that Perry made it to Texas in the first place. But he actually did two stints with the team. Cleveland traded him to Texas in the middle of the 1975 season (Perry was reportedly not getting along with manager Frank Robinson). That paired Perry with another former Cy Young award winner, Ferguson Jenkins, and the pair won a combined 21 games the rest of the 1975 season.
Perry became the ace in 1976, at age 37, and he won 15 games in the 1976 and 1977 seasons before moving on to San Diego. He returned to Texas in 1980, but he went 6-9 before the Rangers traded him to the New York Yankees.
And the spitballs? Well, Perry has been pretty transparent about that all these years. Some of it sounds true, some of it was just a way to psych out hitters.
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