A North Carolina legend died today.
Gaylord Perry won his 300th game at Seattle during the first year I was in the Mariners Clubhouse. That win was my first champagne spraying celebration.
Gaylord had a special relationship with the clubhouse guys - invited some to visit him at his peanut farm near Washington, NC to spend time with his son Jack who was occasionally in our clubhouse during the season.
He had cases of bags of peanuts from his farm stored in the clubhouse and sold them -autographed - for $5 a bag…cash only.
One night when I was tending the infield ball on the bench - a job coach Vada Pinson had assigned me - 1st baseman Pat Putnam caught my toss to him as he trotted off the field. Pat came over to me laughing. He said he’d just fielded a ground ball Gaylord had gotten for the third out of the inning. When he started to toss it to the umpire, he felt a glob of KY jelly on the seams. So instead of tossing the ball to the ump, he rolled it slowly on the turf to the mound.
After spending two seasons with Gaylord, I am pretty certain I know where he hid the Vaseline on his uniform.
Gaylord was one of the most competitive athletes I ever met. He said he always wanted to win the cow milking contests when he was down in the minor leagues. In Seattle he volunteered to play the pre-game Nintendo game on the big scoreboard.
Gaylord returned to Seattle once after he retired to play in an Old Timers game. One of my responsibilities was to serve as clubhouse manager for the Old Timers every season. Gaylord wore a home white jersey with the logos of every team he played for sewn on the front that wife Blanche had hand made for him. That game was the last time I ever saw him.
Tragedy struck Gaylord after he retired. Wife Blanche was killed in a head-on accident on US 27 down in Florida. His son Jack, at one time a promising pitcher, got sick and died. His NC peanut farm went bankrupt.
Gaylord liked to talk politics. He was a Reagan Republican and I remember his big smile on his face when I told him old Pirates pitcher Wilmer “Vinegar Bend” Mizell had just been named Secretary of Agriculture.
Gaylord lived over in the Smoky Mountains of NC for a while after retiring from baseball. He moved down to Gafney, SC and started the Limestone University baseball program.
Crusty and crotchety as can be, Gaylord also had a sense of dry sense of humor. RIP #36!