I had no idea who Gaylord Perry was till Monday afternoon when I met him in person. My sister-in-law Shirley had arranged for us to take part in a special event being organized by the Scottsdale vacation community where we are guests.
We were going to a major league baseball spring training game to see the San Francisco Giants play the Arizona Diamond Backs.
Our event package included a bus ride to the San Francisco Giants’ Scottsdale Stadium, seats in a VIP box, a hearty lunch with beverages of all kinds, and a chance to meet Gaylord Perry a right-handed pitcher, famous for his spitball. Perry played in the major leagues from 1962 to 1983, nine of those years with the San Francisco Giants. Perry is a member of the Baseball Hall of Fame.
After the game was underway we could take turns talking to Gaylord, asking him questions and getting an autographed baseball card from him. We could pick which card we wanted from Gaylord’s collection. Dave chose a card featuring Gaylord and his brother Jim who was also a major league pitcher for 17 years. Both Perry and Jim won the Cy Young Award during their careers. The award is for best pitcher in the league in a given year. I picked a card showing Gaylord as a six-year-old grade one student in his home community of Williamston North Carolina. I told Gaylord I had once been a first-grade teacher. My sister-in-law Shirley and brother-in-law Paul had a chance to meet Gaylord as well. Gaylord was wearing a San Francisco Giants shirt because the Giants were the first of eight major league teams he played for. Shirley asked Gaylord to verify a story she had read that he hit his first homerun in the major leagues the same day as the first astronaut walked on the moon. Gaylord said that was true. The story goes that although Gaylord was a prized pitcher he was such a poor hitter that the manager of the Giants once said to a sports reporter, “Mark my words, we will land on the moon before Gaylord Perry hits a homerun.” Five years later on July 20, 1969 at a game at San Francisco’s Candlestick Park, Gaylord hit his first major league home run just thirty minutes after the announcement was made over the loudspeakers at the ball park that Apollo 11 had landed on the moon.
There were several homeruns in the game we watched between the San Francisco Giants and the Arizona Diamond Backs. The Giants won the game with a score of 11-9.