30th anniversary: Gaylord Perry finally busted

30 years ago today, it finally happened. The Man finally caught Gaylord Perry.

On Aug. 23, 1982, Perry was the starting pitcher for the Seattle Mariners against the Boston Red Sox. In all that time, two things were true about Perry: 1) he’d long been known as a spitball pitcher; and 2) he’d never been caught red-handed.

It really wasn’t a question of if Perry threw it. His willingness to throw it was widely known. Heck, Perry practically waged a national PR campaign to let people know he did it. When he co-wrote his autobiography in the 1970s, he titled it Me and the Spitter.

But he’d always play coy during games. Umpire Ron Luciano once said that when you approached Perry on the mound to pat him down for throwing a spitter, Perry would always joke something like, “Now whatever you do Ron, don’t search my right arm? Got it—not my right arm.”

For Perry, the spitter was a two-fold weapon. First, it was an effective pitch that would move weirdly away from batters. Second, the threat of the spitball was a psychological weapon he could use against batters. He’d do a little routine on the mound where he’d touch his cap brim, or his eyebrows or whatever else—it was all designed to make the batter wonder if he was loading up on the ball. Thus Perry could throw a perfectly clean pitch and still take advantage from the spitter because it was such a threat. Guys never knew what was coming.

And Perry had quite a successful career doing it. When he stood on the mound on Aug. 23, 1982, Perry was already a 300 game winner, with a career record of 304-250 for his career. This was his 655th start and 742nd appearance, yet he’d never been caught.

For much of the day, things went as usual. Perry generally got guys out, but trailed 1-0 in the top of the seventh. Then, with Rick Miller at the plate for Boston, the umpires finally caught him. Boston demanded Perry be investigated for throwing the spitter, and sure enough the umpires found Perry holding a ball covered in Vaseline. After 5,128.2 IP and 20,993 batters faced, Gaylord Perry was caught for throwing the spitball.

Technically speaking, he wasn’t ejected for throwing a spitball. He was technically ejected for being the pitcher on the mound when a scuffed ball was in play. They couldn’t officially prove the scuffing came before or after the most recent pitch. Not that it makes any difference. When the ump ran Perry, the veteran pitcher departed without a protest. It ain’t like any umpire was going to un-eject him, anyway.

After the game a crunch of reporters waited for home plate umpire Dave Phillips. It turns out this was the first ejection for loading up on the ball since the 1940s. It would not be the last. In a few years, Rick Honeycutt would be found with a thumbtack in his glove, Joe Niekro with an emery board in his back pocket, and other pitchers also did the Ejection Walk of Shame to the showers.

But no ejected name was bigger than Gaylord Perry, and he earned his ejection 30 years ago today.

Aside from that, many other events today celebrate their anniversary or “day-versary” (which is an event that occurred X-thousand days ago). Here they are, with the better ones in bold if you’d prefer to just skim over things.


3,000 days since Rod Barajas triples. To date, it’s his only triple. He has the most PA for someone with only one career triple. He’s around 3,700 PA, about 50 percent more than one-triple runner up, Toby Hall.

8,000 days since Dave Winfield suffers his worst day ever according to WPA. He’s 0-for-5 with a K and a GIDP. Every at bat of his ends an inning and the GIDP ends the game. His team, the Angels, lose 2-1 to the Royals.

15,000 days since Cleveland fires manager Alvin Dark.

15,000 days since Dave Kingman makes his major league debut.

20,000 days since the A’s and Tigers make a 13 player deal that sends Billy Martin, Gus Zernial, and Mickey McDermott all go to the Tigers.

25,000 days since the public finds out that Cy Young’s middle name is True, not Tecumseh as previously believed.

30,000 days since the first Negro Leagues game in Yankee Stadium is played.

30,000 days since Frankie Frisch has 16 chances in one game at second base.


1870 George Davis, Hall of Fame shortstop, is born.

1884 Harry Wright, the game’s first great manager, helms his 1,000th game. He’s 615-374 (not including pre-1871 games).

1891 The Reds release 300-game winner Old Hoss Radbourn.

1901 The Reds release 200-game winner Gus Weyhing.

1906 The “Hitless Wonder” Chicago White Sox win their 19th consecutive game, which will be an AL record that stands until the 2002 A’s.

1907 Pittsburgh’s Howie Camnitz tosses a shortened game five-inning no-hitter, prevailing over the Giants, 1-0.

1909 Catcher Bill Bergen tosses out six of eight would-be base stealers.

1909 The Cubs steal home three times in one game.

1910 Pirates outfielder Fred Clarke makes four assists in one game.

1910 Lonny Frey, infielder, is born.

1912 Walter Johnson wins his 16th straight decision, 8-1 for Washington over the Tigers.

1916 Ty Cobb goes from first to third on a single to left against the A’s, and then steals home.

1919 Detroit wins, giving manager Hughie Jennings a career record 193 games over .500 (1,055-862), his peak.

1920 Carl Mays wins his 100th game, 100-63. He’ll be 108-63 for the rest of his career.

1921 Dale Mitchell, the final out in Don Larsen’s perfect game, is born.

1922 Hall of Famer George Kell is born.

1922 Wilbur Cooper, the all-time winningest Pirates pitcher in history, hits an inside the park home run.

1923 Under oath, Cincinnati’s Sam Bohne and Pat Duncan deny they were asked to throw games to the Giants.

1924 Dazzy Vance ties his personal nine-inning best with 15 strikeouts in one game. His line on the day: 9 IP, 7 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 5 BB, and 15 K.

1924 Herb Pennock completes his 15th straight start, his personal best. His line in that time: 11-3 W-L, 2 SHO, 135 IP, 129 H, 36 R, 33 ER, 24 BB, 45 K, and a 2.22 ERA.

1926 Hall of Fame skippers Bill McKechnie and Wilbert Robinson manage against each other for the 100th time.

1928 The New York Yankees claim veteran hurler Tom Zachary off waivers from Washington. Zachary’s most famous moment came the year before, when he allowed Ruth’s 60th homer of the year.

1928 Lefty Grove strikes out the side on nine pitches in the second inning against the Indians.

1929 The Chicago Cubs purchase Lon Warneke from Alexandria in the Cotton States League.

1930 Frankie Frisch cracks out his 2,000th hit in only his 1,541st game.

1931 The Yankees trade players to San Francisco in the Pacific Coast League for shortstop Frankie Crosetti.

1931 Mickey Cochrane gets his 1,000th hit.

1931 Chick Hafey has his greatest game, going 5-for-5 with a double, two homers, and eight RBIs as the Cardinals destroys the Braves, 16-1.

1931 Lefty Grove posts his 10th consecutive Quality Start, his best such streak, but he is in an absolutely foul mood after the game. You see, his 16-game winning streak came to an end thank to an error by leftfielder Jim Moore. Grove has a 15-minute temper tantrum after the A’s fall to the Browns, 1-0.

1932 Al Simmons belts his 200th home run.

1932 The Cubs go an entire game with only one assist, beating the Phillies, 5-1.

1936 Hall of Fame manager Bill McKechnie loses his 1,000th game. He’s 1,055-1,000 for his career.

1936 In his first big league start, 17-year-old Bob Feller fans 15 batters and records his first win.

1938 Bill Terry manages his 1,000th game. He’s won three pennants and one world title so far, but won’t have any more October glory as a skipper.

1938 Jimmie Foxx belts a walk-off grand slam against Willis Hudlin for a 14-12 Boston victory over the Indians. Cleveland led 6-0 early, and still maintained a 10-6 lead in the middle of the eighth.

1939 Charlie Gehringer has the last of nine multi-home run games.

1942 In a special game at Yankee Stadium for the army/navy relief fund, 69,136 see Babe Ruth face Walter Johnson, and homer off the fifth pitch.

1942 Big league baseball sees seven shutouts tossed in 16 contests (lots of doubleheaders). There’s nearly an eighth shutout as Ted Lyons wins 3-1 on a three-hitter.

1947 The St. Louis Browns cut Negro Leaguers Hank Thompson and Willard Brown, who’d they signed in an unsuccessful ploy to raise attendance.

1952 Umpire Augie Donateli ejects two Giants in one at bat. Bob Elliott gets the heave for kicking dirt on him and replacement hitter Bobby Hofman gets thumbed for arguing a called third strike.

1953 Phil Paine becomes the first former big leaguer to play in Japan. The one time Brave joins the Nishistsu Lions.

1956 Nellie Fox collects seven consecutive hits in a doubleheader, helping the White Sox sweep the Yankees.

1957 Wally Burnette becomes the last A’s pitcher to last at least nine inning in relief. He allows one run in 10 innings.

1957 Mike Boddicker is born.

1957 Monterrey, Mexico team becomes the first foreign team to win the Little League World Series.

1958 Baltimore claims Hoyt Wilhelm off waivers from Cleveland. This move works out great for them.

1958 Gil Hodges sets a new NL record by hitting his 14th career grand slam.

1958 Ageless wonder Julio Franco is born.

1958 Don Drysdale blasts two home runs out of the park in 10-1 win for the Dodgers over Milwaukee.

1959 Don Drysdale gets stuck with two losses in one day. In the first game of a Dodger-Pirate doubleheader, he starts and loses. In game two, he pitches in relief and loses.

1960 Lew Burdette tosses his third straight complete game shutout. His overall line: 27 IP, 12 H, 1 BB, 9 K.

1962 Steve Boros makes four errors in one inning for Detroit, but they beat the Indians anyway.

1964 Roberto Clemente slugs his 100th home run.

1968 Lindy McDaniel has one of the best relief performances in baseball history, retiring all 21 batters he faces. Since 1920, no one can top that and only once has it been equaled (by Jake Westbrook in 2004).

1969 Detroit’s Jim Northrup gets six hits in a 13-inning game.

1970 Cincinnati phenom Don Gullett fans six straight Mets.

1970 For the second straight day, Roberto Clemente records five hits in a game.

1971 The Santo Explosion. Star Cubs third baseman Ron Santo. has a clubhouse explosion that team manager Leo Durocher later says is the angriest outburst he ever saw on any team. It never becomes physical, but the situation is so volatile that a few days later Cub team owner Phil K. Wrigley decides to take a full-page advertisement in the papers to show his support for Durocher.

1972 Dick Allen becomes only the fourth player to ever hit a homer into the centerfield bleachers in Comiskey Park. Only Hank Greenberg, Jimmie Foxx, and Alex Johnson did it previously. As it happens, on that day, Sox announcer (and Allen critic) Harry Caray calls the game from the centerfield bleachers.

1974 Rick Reuschel enjoys his best day according to WPA. He tosses a complete game shutout for the Cubs in a 1-0 win over the Giants. His WPA: 0.828.

1975 For the 32nd and final time, Sweet Swinging Billy Williams hits multiple home runs in one game.

1975 Nolan Ryan undergoes surgery on his pitching elbow.

1978 According to WPA, Victor Cruz records the best relief stint in Toronto history on this day: 3.2 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 4 BB, 4 K for a 0.790 WPA.

1979 Bowie Kuhn fines Ray Kroc $100,000 for tampering due to remarks he made about potential free agents Joe Morgan and Graig Nettles.

1980 Charles O. Finley sells the A’s to Walter Haas, Wally Haas, and Roy Eisenhardt for $12.7 million.

1982 The Reds trade Jim Kern to the White Sox for challenging Cincinnati’s team policy on no facial hair.

1983 Amos Otis collects his 2,000th hit.

1983 Dave Concepcion gets ejected for arguing a caught steal with umpire Dave Pallone, and will draw a three game suspension for spitting on the ump.

1984 Charlie Robertson, threw a perfect game in 1922 for the White Sox, dies.

1985 Andres Galarraga makes his big league debut.

1989 The Dodgers top the Expos 1-0 in 22 innings on a walk-off homer by Rick Dempsey. It’s the latest walk-off home run in NL history. Montreal pitchers walk zero batters in the game, the longest contest since at least 1920 where a staff didn’t do that. Larry Walker, playing in just his seventh big league game, records two sacrifice hits. He’ll end his playing days with seven SH in all.

1991 Royals second baseman Terry Shumpert achieves the rare four-base error. He collides with right fielder Danny Tartabull on a pop/fly, allowing Texas batter Juan Gonzalez to score, along with two base runners.

1992 There’s a double no-hitter in the Class A Florida State League by Andy Carter of Clearwater and Scott Bakum of Winter Have. Clearwater wins 1-0, thanks to a two-walk inning.

1993 For the fifth and final time, Joe Carter belts three homers in a game.

1994 Butte beats Billings 22-21 in a Pioneer League game. Added bonus: this ends a 15-game winning streak for Billings.

1995 Lou Whitaker hits a pinch-hit walk-off home run, one of two career pinch-hit shots, and his seventh of eight walk-offs.

1996 The Yankees trade Bob Wickman to the Brewers.

1998 Felipe Alou manages his 1,000th game. He’s 521-479.

1998 Barry Bonds belts his 400th home run, achieving his lifelong dream of being a 400/400 steals/homer guy. No one pays any attention, helping to propel Bonds’ career in a different direction.

1998 During a Cubs-Astros game, the Blue Angels buzz Wrigley Field. Video of it is here.

1999 Bud Selig announces that Pete Rose will be invited to the World Series if he’s named to the All-Century Team.

1999 Scott Rolen suffers through probably his worst day at the plate, going 0-for-5 with five strikeouts. It’s his only five-strikeout game. Oh, and his Phillies lose 7-6 to San Diego.

2000 Jim Thome records his 1,000th hit.

2000 Tiger fans flee their seats when insects swarm the place. They don’t bother the players, though.

2000 Dodger president Bob Graziano apologizes to two female fans who were asked to leave the park on Aug. 8 because they kissed each other.

2001 For only the 12th time in baseball history, teammates hit back-to-back pinch-hit homers. It’s Barry Bonds and Shawon Dunston on the Giants.

2001 Randy Johnson of Arizona strikes out the side against the Pirates on nine pitches in the sixth inning.

2002 Hoyt Wilhelm, the first Hall of Fame knuckleballer, dies.

2002 Sammy Sosa endures his worst WPA game: -0.421 WPA. He’s 0-for-5 with a K as the Diamondbacks top the Cubs, 3-2.

2003 Bobby Bonds dies.

2003 The Yankees retire Ron Guidry’s number, 49.

2004 Scott Kazmir makes his big league debut.

2009 Angel Pagan legs out a lead-off inside the park home run off of Pedro Martinez. It’s only the second inside-the-park homer Martinez has ever surrendered, but one of his record 19 lead off blasts allowed.

2010 Texas is just two outs from a no-hitter when Minnesota’s Joe Mauer singles, ruining the collective effort by Rich Harden, Matt Harrison, Darren O’Day, and Neftali Feliz.

2011 St. Louis’ Matt Holliday takes himself out of the game versus the Dodgers when a wayward moth settles inside his ear.

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11 years ago

I think it would be a lot harder to get away with loading up the ball today. There are more cameras at each game. Even more than that, they take every ball in the dirt or hint of a foul tip out of play and usually the catcher flips the ball to the umpire before he tosses it to the ball boy next to the home dugout.  With more balls undergoing even this casual inspection, somebody would catch on if the balls routinely had Vaseline or something else on them.