Today is March 14th, a day that has come be known as Pi Day. Yes, this may be an artificial holiday created by nerds to sell us all math, but we can still enjoy our pizzas and chocolate creme pies today. However, I digress.
Looking through players to try to find some way of tying this all important holiday to the world of baseball, the first place I checked was under the all time wins list. Come to find out, former Kansas City Royals pitcher Gaylord Perry won exactly 314 games over his major league career. That extensive quest to find a way to work baseball and Pi together took all of ten seconds.
Despite the spitball being outlawed in 1920, in large part due to Carl Mays hitting Ray Chapman in the head with the pitch, resulting in Chapman’s death a few days later, Perry was perhaps the last of the great spitballers. While he referred to the pitch as a ‘hard slider,’ people knew the truth of what Perry was actually throwing. After all, he did write an autobiography entitled ‘Me and the Spitter’ in 1974, in the middle of his playing career.
With that pitch, Gaylord Perry was able to earn five All-Star appearances, win two Cy Young Awards and even place as high as sixth in the 1972 MVP ballot. Over his career, Perry managed a 314-265 record with a 3.11 ERA and 3534 strikeouts. Those numbers were enough to get him elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame on his third try in 1991.
While Perry is predominantly remembered as a member of the San Francisco Giants or the Cleveland Indians, he finished his illustrious career in Kansas City, going 4-4 with a 4.27 ERA, even throwing his final shutout as a member of the Royals. Although the Royals finished a distant second in the AL West that year, Perry was still a valuable piece in the rotation until the end.
Gaylord Perry certainly had an interesting career, one that may have never have occurred if he did not utilize a pitch that had been banned 18 years before he was born. With his 314 career victories, Pi Day is the perfect time to look back on Perry and his time in the major leagues.