Ferguson Jenkins tweeted, Thursday morning, December 1, 2022, that Gaylord Perry, a friend, 1975 Texas Rangers teammate, and fellow Cooperstown Inductee, Class of 1991, had passed away [at age 84]. Perry, from Williamston, North Carolina, died peacefully in Gaffney, South Carolina. He won 314 big-league games and fanned 3,534 hitters in 22 seasons: from 1963-1984. Perry was a 2x Cy Young Winner: 1972 Cleveland Indians—AL, 1978 San Diego Padres—NL, and 5x All-Star. Willie Mays, Perry’s San Francisco (SF) teammate for ten seasons (1962-1971), stated on December 1, 2022: “He [Perry] was a good man, a good ballplayer, and a great friend.” https://www.thehour.com/sports/article/Muere-Gaylord-Perry-2-veces-ganador-del-Cy-Young-17625196.php
This blog has data on his 1963-64 Dominican Republic (LIDOM) Winter League season, which helped propel him to Cooperstown. For more details, please see Perry’s fine SABR bio by Mark Armour: 300 Pitching Victories – Society for American Baseball Research (sabr.org). Armour noted pivotal points in Perry’s career:
- He was 1-6 with a 4.03 ERA for the 1963 SF Giants before they sent him back to AAA Tacoma in August 1963.
- Perry’s “lost 1963 season” was “salvaged somewhat with a fine winter in the Dominican Republic, joining [SF] teammates Juan Marichal and the three Alou brothers…after a “rocky start,” he “ended up leading the league [LIDOM] in strikeouts.”
- The December 3, 1963 trade when SF dealt OF Felipe Alou, catcher (C) Ed Bailey, LHP Billy Hoeft, and player to be named later; January 8, 1964, Ernie Bowman to Milwaukee, for C Del Crandall, and pitchers’ Bob Shaw—who threw the spitball—and Bob Hendley.
Orlando Cepeda, a “new” 1999 Cooperstown Inductee, Remembered Gaylord Perry
The author, age nine, became a rabid 1963-64 Santurce Crabbers fan. His three favorite players were: LHP Juan “Terín” Pizarro, #1; RHP Rubén Gómez, #22; and 1B Orlando Cepeda, #30. Cepeda was Perry’s SF teammate from 1962-1966. “Gaylord was a big (6”4,” 210 lb.) guy,” noted Cepeda in November 1999, when Diana Zorrilla—widow of Pedrín Zorrilla, Santurce’s owner, 1939-1956—invited the author to have lunch, with Cepeda and his agent, at her Santurce #506 Bouret Street home. Cepeda said: “Gaylord was ‘old school’ tough—grew up on a farm…a good SF teammate; Juan Marichal told me Gaylord’s 1963-64 season with Escogido was crucial and important for his confidence in getting big league caliber hitters out.”
Equipo Escarlata (The Red Team) and Licey Tigers (The Blue Team)
Vern Benson managed the 1963-64 Licey Tigers, LIDOM, aka the “Blue Team.” Licey’s uniform with royal blue closely mirrored those of the Los Angeles Dodgers. Their arch-rival Escogido Lions were called the “Red Team” by players the authors once interviewed, e.g., Pete Burnside, Frank Howard, and Pete Richert. Rubén Gómez pitched for Licey (1952) and Escogido (1963-64), so he was well aware of this rivalry, similar to San Juan versus Santurce.
Perry also faced Águilas Cibaeñas (AC) and Estrellas Orientales (EO). AC, in Santiago, was the “Yellow Team,” (Equipo Mamey). EO, in San Pedro de Macoris, was the “Green Team.”
Escogido Lions (1963-64)
Perry’s Escogido skipper was José St. Claire, known in Puerto Rico’s Winter League (PRWL) as Pepe Lucas. He hit the February 17, 1951 “Shot Heard Around the Caribbean,” walk-off HR, as Santurce Crabbers won Game 7 of hard-fought finals versus Caguas Criollos. St. Claire was a Dominican 1B who played in PRWL as a Native for six seasons before LIDOM became a 1955-56 Winter League, It was a Summer League, 1951-1954, after it went bankrupt following its 1937 season. Pepe Lucas was inducted into the LIDOM HOF in 1974.
José St. Claire (Pepe Lucas), with Santurce. Photo credit: beisbol101.com.
The 1963-64 Lions’ top hitters were brothers Felipe Alou in RF: .333, 3 HR, 20 RBI; CF Matty Alou: .329, 2 HR, 7 RBI; and LF Jesús (Jay) Alou: .314, 4 HR, 33 RBI. Minnie Miñoso had a .360 BA in 14 games as a reserve OF. Lucas’s key starters were Perry (8-8, 2.00 ERA, 20 games, 17 starts, 10 CG, 135 IP, 1.03 WHIP); lefty Danilo Rivas (8-4, 2.44 ERA, 18 games, 15 starts, 6 CG, 107 IP, 1.27 WHIP); and Juan Marichal (7-4, 1.36 ERA, 13 games, 9 starts 6 CG, 92.2 IP, 0.91 WHIP). The other six pitchers were a combined 6-12 for 29-28, third-place Lions.
Tony Piña Campora, Caribbean Series Historian from the capital of Santo Domingo, recalled that Escogido and Licey shared Quisqueya Stadium (now Juan Marichal Stadium) for their home games and witnessed a few Perry starts. “[Gaylord] Perry lost his first seven or eight starts but then won eight in a row,” said Campora. “He improved as the season went on.”
Coincidentally, the LIDOM was dormant most of 1961-62 and all of 1962-63, post-assassination of President Rafael Leonidas Trujillo on May 30, 1961. Escogido’s Jay Alou played for the 1962-63 San Juan Senators (PRWL), as did Licey’s Pedro “Speedy” González, Manny Mota, and Julián Javier, AC 2B, who played some games for Vern Benson’s 1961-62 Santurce Crabbers.
Two Perry wins came against Venezuelan League teams due to Inter-League contests between LIDOM clubs and various ballclubs in Venezuela (Tony Flores, via Twitter, on December 1, 2022). Perry recorded CG wins against the La Guaira Sharks and Valencia Industrialists and a no-decision versus the Caracas Lions. He fanned 23 in 24 innings.
January 19-23, 1964 Semi-Finals: Licey’s John Boozer versus Gaylord Perry
Marichal and Julián Javier were suspended, late in the season, including post-season play, due to “contractual issues.” Rubén Gómez replaced Marichal in the rotation and won a late-season start. RHP Phil Ortega also joined Escogido via Santurce, PRWL. Perry started Game 1 of the semis against Licey’s John Boozer, also signed from the PRWL. Perry prevailed, 10-2, in front of 16,106 fanatics, allowing six hits, fanning nine, and walking two. Gómez followed with a Game 2 win before Benson’s Tigers won the next three to take the series, three games to two. Boozer blanked Escogido, 2-0, on January 22, with Perry the loser. Diómedes Olivo won the fifth game, 6-2, enabling Licey to face first-place AC in the best-of-nine finals, won by Licey five games to three. Table I has Perry’s post-season pitching for Escogido. Table II lists all Cooperstown Inductees who played professional summer or winter baseball in the Dominican Republic.
Table I: Escogido’s Pitching Stats, January 1964 Semi-Finals versus Licey
Juan Marichal, #27 for Escogido. Photo credit: https://www.diariolibre.com/deportes/columnistas/2021/12/28/juan-marichal-debuto-hace-64-anos-en-lidom/1557031
Table II: LIDOM Players Enshrined in Cooperstown, 1971-2023
|Player: Year Inducted||POS||Teams and Seasons||LIDOM Highlights|
|Satchel Paige: 1971||P||Ciudad Trujillo (1937)||8-2 W-L for champions.|
|Joshua Gibson: 1972||C||Ciudad Trujillo (1937)||Top .453 BA and .830 SLG.|
|Cool Papa Bell: 1974||OF||Ciudad Trujillo (1937)||.318 BA, fifth in the league.|
|Martín Dihigo: 1977||Many, plus MGR||Escogido (1929), AC (1937), AC MGR-1951, Escogido MGR-1952||.351 BA, .577 SLG for AC-1937; tied for most HR (4). MGR: 12-12 (AC, 1951); 15-9, Escogido, 1952.|
|Bob Gibson: 1981||P||Licey (1958-59)||2-6, 5.00 ERA, 45 IP, 35 K.|
|Juan Marichal: 1983||P||Escogido (1957-61, 1963-65, 1967-68, 1973-74)||1980 LIDOM HOF. Lowest career ERA (1.87) and WHIP (1.04). 36-22 (regular season) and 4-4, 2.12 ERA post-season.|
|Willie McCovey: 1986||1B||Escogido (1957-59)||.274/.374/.452 slash line; .826 OPS (4 HR). Playoffs: .308/.357/.500 slash; .857 OPS.|
|Ray Dandridge: 1987||3B||Escogido (1954)||.281 BA, 1 HR, 11 RBI.|
|Willie Stargell:1988||LF-1B||AC (1963-64)||.314/.390/.569 slash; .959 OPS regular season. .452/.500/.581 slash line-playoffs; 1.081 OPS.|
|Ferguson Jenkins: 1991||P||Escogido (1964-65 finals)||3 G, 9 IP, 1.00 ERA.|
|Gaylord Perry: 1991||P||Escogido (1963-64)||8-8, 2.00 ERA, 135 IP, 106 K, 27 BB, 1.03 WHIP.|
|Rollie Fingers: 1992||P||EO (1970-71)||9-5, 3.05 ERA. Most wins, starts (17), lowest WHIP: 1.19. Was 0-1, 1.35 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, playoffs.|
|Jim Bunning: 1996||MGR||Escogido (1976-77)||31-29. Lost in semis. Wayne Simpson (9-5, 2.98 ERA) was Bunning’s best pitcher.|
|Tommy Lasorda: 1997||MGR||Escogido (1970-71), Licey (1972-76)||30-29 with Escogido. Lost finals to Licey, six games to one. Doyle Alexander: best Escogido pitcher. Licey: back-to-back league titles, and Feb. 1973 Caribbean Series title, in Venezuela. 32-23 in 1972-73; 5-2 W-L in finals. Pedro Borbón star P. Steve Garvey, Manny Mota, Von Joshua, Bobby Valentine. 37-21 in 1973-74; 5-2 W-L finals. Tom Paciorek, Mota, Steve Yeager, Bill Buckner, and Garvey…Caguas won Feb. 1974 Caribbean Series. 28-29, 3rd, 1974-75 Licey; 26-34 with 1975-76 Licey, and 6-6 post-season.|
|Phil Niekro: 1997||P||EO (1966-67)||8-6, 2.60 ERA, 142 IP, 64 K, 25 BB. Semis: 1-0, 0.00 ERA.|
|Sparky Anderson: 2000||2B||Escogido (1956-57)||League champs; .178 BA.|
|Bill Mazeroski: 2001||2B-SS||AC (1955-57)||.290 BA, 2 HR, 39 RBI, 366 AB—2 regular seasons. 10 for 32, .313 BA, 1955-56 post-season. 0 for 11, 1956-57 post-season.|
|Willard Brown: 2006||OF||Escogido (1951 and 1952)||.287/.372/.504 slash; .876 OPS; 14 HR, 46 RBI in 282 AB; 38 BB; 9 K.|
|Pedro Martínez: 2015||P||Licey (1991-92, 1995-96)||2015 LIDOM HOF. 1-1, 2.02 ERA, 26.2 IP, 24 K, 9 BB, 1.05 WHIP. Post-Season: 1-3, 2.48 ERA, 29 IP, 22 K, 10 BB, 1.17 WHIP.|
|Vladimir Guerrero: 2018||OF-DH||EO (1995-97, 2001-02); Licey (2004-05, 2012-13).||2016 LIDOM HOF. .276 BA, regular season. Post-season: .358/.429/.593 slash, 1.022 OPS.|
|Ted Simmons: Inducted in 2021 (Class of 2020)||C||Licey (1969-70)||.308 BA, 1 HR, 8 RBI (16 for 52—just regular season).|
|Tony Oliva: 2022||RF||AC (1963-64), Licey (1967-69)||Led AC to finals title, 1963-64: 10/29, .345 BA, versus Licey, after going 8/21, .381 BA, versus Escogido, semis.|
|Minnie Miñoso: 2022||LF||Escogido (1963-64)||In 14 regular season games: 9 for 25; .360/.500/360 slash line; .860 OPS. Drew 7 walks and fanned 6x.|
|David Ortiz: 2022||DH-1B||Escogido (1994-2004 plus Jan. 2005 round-robin)||2021 LIDOM HOF. MVP: 1999-2000 LIDOM. 24 HR, 164 RBI in 899 AB. Slash: .276/.349/.444; .793 OPS. Post-season: 18 HR, 81 RBI in 413 AB. Reinforced five Caribbean Series teams; four won titles. MVP: 2003 Series; HOF: 2022. Had .355 career BA and .579 SLG in 121 Caribbean Series AB.|
|Fred McGriff: 2023||1B||Azucareros del Este, (1984-85); Escogido (1986-87); Caimanes del Sur (1987-88).||Gold Glove:1986-87. .208/.338/.318 slash; .656 OPS. Nine HR, 39 RBI, in 371 AB. Went 0-for-13 in 1984-85 post-season for Azucareros.|
Sources: BEISBOL Y ESTADÍSTICAS. Inmortales de Cooperstown que han jugado en República Dominicana (hoy.com.do) and other sources.
Herman Franks Remembers Perry
“We should have won back-to-back pennants in 1965 and 1966,” recalled Franks when conversing with the author in 1998. (Franks managed the 1954-55 and 1955-56 Santurce Crabbers to consecutive PRWL pennants and the February 1955 Caribbean Series crown.) Franks remembered SF, in 1965, blowing a four-game over Los Angeles (LA) with 12 games left. Franks felt five more wins would “do it,” as did Mays. Carl Isackson chronicled the Giants’ losing ground, including Warren Spahn’s last big-league appearance, versus Cincinnati, on October 1, 1965. https://sabr.org/gamesproj/game/october-1-1965-warren-spahns-final-appearance/ put, Perry and Spahn—both in relief—faced three hitters apiece, as Cincinnati broke the game wide open. SF would finish two games behind LA. It was ironic that Franks used two Hall of Famers in relief during the same inning, who won a combined 677 big-league games! Five future Cooperstown Inductees were with SF: Perry, Spahn, Mays, McCovey, and Cepeda.
Franks reflected sadness about 1966, when Perry (21-8, 2.99 ERA, 1.103 WHIP) and Marichal (25-6, 2.23 ERA, 0.859 WHIP) combined for a 46-14 W-L record, while other SF hurlers were a composite 47-54. LA topped them by 1.5 games at 95-67, with Sandy Koufax (27-9) and Phil Regan (14-1) “leading the way.” Franks was well aware that two ex-SF and Escogido OF—Felipe and Matty Alou—had outstanding 1966 seasons for Atlanta and Pittsburgh, respectively: Felipe, a league-leading 122 runs and 218 hits with Atlanta (plus 31 HR as a leadoff hitter); and Matty posted the loop’s top BA: .342. (The author played Strat-O-Matic Baseball for the first time in 1967, using 1966 AL and NL season cards.)
Arturo (Art) López, the first Puerto Rico-born player to play in Japan (1968-1973), alerted the author that his 1970 Lotte Orions owner, Mr. Nagata, was a good friend of Horace Stoneham, SF Giants owner. Both owners agreed upon a nine-game spring training series in Japan for the SF club. Lotte bested SF, 10-6, on March 29, 1970, in the Giants’ final Japan game. Art’s teammate Enomoto’s first-inning two-run HR off Gaylord Perry propelled the Orions to this win. Art went hitless against Perry, who threw him spitballs. They had a good laugh about this. And he also hit an HR off Marichal during one of these games! SF was the first MLB team to play a series in Japan BEFORE the regular season and went 3-6 in Japan, the first time an MLB team lost most of its games in Japan. https://www.nytimes.com/1970/03/30/archives/giants-end-japanese-trip-with-6th-loss-in-9-games.html Art is proud and honored to be the first baseball player from Puerto Rico to play professionally in Japan. Jaime “Jimmy” Rosario, from Bayamón, followed Art with the 1977 Crown Lighter Lions. https://sabr.org/bioproj/person/art-lopez/ Rosario was Perry’s teammate with the 1971 SF Giants, Perry’s last season with them.
Jerry Moses Recalled Perry’s 1972 “Cy Young” Talent and Spitball with Cleveland
Jerry Moses was the youngest Boston Red Sox hitter to homer in an AL game, 18 years and 289 days, off Minnesota’s Jim “Mudcat” Grant, May 25, 1965. Jerry Moses – Society for American Baseball Research (sabr.org) He was traded to various teams, including 1972 Cleveland Indians. He called it a “privilege to catch Gaylord Perry [in 1972].” Moses backed up Ray Fosse. His (Moses’) Cleveland buddies were Perry, Chris Chambliss, Graig Nettles, and Del Unser. Moses did mention that Perry “threw the spitball.” The author wrote Jerry’s SABR bio and Art López’s SABR bio.
Perry (24-16) won one-third of Cleveland’s 72 games. Conversely, Steve Carlton, the 1972 NL Cy Young Winner, 27-10 W-L, won 45.8 percent of Philadelphia’s 59 wins.
Art Shamsky, who played for Santurce, 1965-66, stated on Twitter on December 1, 2022, that Perry was “as tough as nails” and a “great competitor during an era with great pitchers and hitters….”
Many more Perry stories are at https://www.cooperstowncred.com/rip-gaylord-perry-cooperstown-spitballer/
Rubén Gómez, Paul Blair and Terín Pizarro Opined on Perry and John Boozer
Gómez had pitched against John Boozer in the PRWL, 1963-68, and called Boozer’s spitball his “out pitch.” Gómez was willing to “teach Perry how to throw a screwball—Gómez’s ‘out pitch’—during the brief time they (Gómez-Perry) were January 1964 Escogido teammates. “Our Escogido manager—Pepe Lucas—encouraged me to share thoughts with Perry,” recalled Gómez. “But Gaylord [Perry] had won eight regular season games in a row and was just 25 years old. So, we just had general conversations about being aggressive and staying ahead of hitters.”
Paul Blair vividly remembered his 3-run HR off Boozer, February 1, 1967, in Ponce, to give Santurce a 6-3 win in Game 6 of the Finals. “We (Santurce club) did not want to spend an extra night at the hotel in Ponce,” said Blair. “We packed our clothes and put them on the team bus. My HR against Boozer came on the DRY side of the baseball!” Five years later, Blair had to face Perry’s screwball. “His (Perry’s) was a dandy compared to Boozer,” stated Blair. “Perry went through all those gestures and motions…he also had other good stuff….”
Pizarro—who won the game mentioned above against Ponce—felt that Boozer “definitely cheated” with “his spitball.” Terín got a “close look” at Perry’s spitball, circa 1967 and 1968 when Pittsburgh played SF. “Perry, then, had a repertoire of pitches,” noted Terín during one of our conversations at Santurce’s Central Park. “Perry knew how to pitch but also cheated….”
Ed Bauta (1935-2022) Ed Bauta – Society for American Baseball Research (sabr.org) called Perry “Un Buen Guajiro” in one of our phone conversations. A Guajiro is a Cuban term for one who grew up and worked on a farm.
Art López’s Legacy as First Boricua to play in Japan’s Pacific and Central Leagues
Arturo posted a .337 AVG for 1963-64 Arecibo, fourth-best, behind teammate Tony Oliva (.365), Ponce’s Walter Bond (.349), and San Juan’s Roberto Clemente (.345). He loved Arecibo; his maternal grandfather owned its first semi-pro baseball team. In 1963-64, Pancho Coímbre, a Ponce coach and Pittsburgh Pirates scout, complimented him before an Arecibo Wolves-Ponce Lions game: “tu me acuerdas de mí con más poder,” (you remind me of myself with more power). López “felt like a million bucks.” (Coímbre’s .337 lifetime Puerto Rico AVG is second to Willard Brown.)
Grateful acknowledgment to Herman Franks, who managed Perry from 1965-1968. To Art López, who batted against Perry in a March 29, 1970 spring training game in Japan; to Gerry Moses, who caught Perry with 1972 Cleveland Indians. Thanks to Ed Bauta (EO) and Dick Hughes (Licey), who pitched against Perry, 1963-64 LIDOM; Vern Benson, who managed Licey against Escogido, 1963-64. Paul Blair, Orlando Cepeda, Rubén Gómez, and Terín Pizarro provided insights as SF (Cepeda) and Escogido (Gómez) teammates; and opponents (Pizarro: Pirates and Cubs); Blair-Baltimore Orioles. Jorge Colón Delgado, the Official Historian of the Roberto Clemente Professional Baseball League and General Coordinator of the Puerto Rico Professional Baseball Hall of Fame, did editing and photo placements.