Gaylord Perry Death

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!

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Great pitcher and quite a character.

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Here’s an episode I’d almost forgotten. I was on the bench the night this happened. We were laughing our asses off in the dugout. Reggie actually grabbed a full Gatorade bucket, opened the lid and threw it all over the first base line.

“Nobody got more psyched out by Gaylord Perry’s Vaseline-ball than Reggie Jackson, whom Perry struck out 22 times. One memorable incident came late in Perry’s career in Seattle, when Jackson reacted to a strikeout by retrieving a pail of water, putting it on the field and hollering words to the effect of “Here, Gaylord, let me help you load it up.” Jackson was ejected.”

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Forwarded to Randy Stearnes.

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I am not completely sure about the facts on this story, but somebody else will likely remember. One of the Perry brothers (I think it was Gaylord, not Jim, had a daughter who attended Miami and I remember seeing him sitting in the stands about 10 feet from my seat on I think Parents weekend. Many years ago. Please add any corrections or facts.

Interesting that you mentioned and knew Vada Pinson…under rated player who prolly should be in the HOF. Played when there were so many great outfielders like Mickey Mantle, Willie Mays and Frank Robinson that he was over looked.

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I think Vada ended up with around 2700 hits. I thought his game and Tony Oliva’s were very similar. Pinson finished with more hits though I think.

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Yeah not to hijack the thread too much (I think I already did), Pinson only was an all star twice early in his career…he hit .343 and led league in hits and triples a couple of times, too, but since he didn’t win a batting title I think that .343 year was sorta forgotten…he wasn’t even on the all star team that year.

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Vada Pinson was our first base coach in 1982 and 1982. Rene Lachemann was the skipper. Vada had been a hero of mine when he played alongside Frank Robbie in the Reds outfield in the early 60s. He could play the centerfield terrace in old Crosley Field better than anyone.

As a coach, he was paired with Chuck Cottier at third base. The two sat next to each other in the clubhouse lockers. I got close to both of them during their two years and Vada assigned me the primary infield ball tender job that put me on the bench every home game.

Vada was in superb condition as a coach - looked like he could still play.

After leaving Seattle and coaching elsewhere, he had gone home to Oakland and retired in 1994. Sadly, he had a stroke in 1995 and died.

Five years later, in 2000, I found myself participating in a Brookings Congressional Relations weeklong seminar at the US Capitol building in DC. One of the guest lecturers was a woman from Oakland named Valerie Pinson. When she walKed in I was astounded. She looked just like Vada.

I approached her after her lecture and introduced myself and asked her is she was related to Vada. She said she was his sister!

We had a nice conversation about how he and I knew each other. Small world!