Glancing Back, and Remembering Jim Perry
No pair of pitching brothers has more combined strikeouts (5,110), shutouts (85) and Cy Young awards (3) than Jim and Gaylord Perry. Their combined 519 major league victories is second only to Phil and Joe Niekro (who won 539 games between them).
Older brother Jim broke into the majors in 1959 with the Cleveland Indians, going 12-10 with a 2.65 ERA as a starter and reliever. He was second in the Rookie of the Year balloting to the Washington Senators’ Bob Allison. He started the 1960s by leading the American League in victories (18, tied with the Baltimore Orioles’ Chuck Estrada), games started (36) and shutouts (4). In the next two years, pitching for a weak Cleveland team, Perry went 22-29, and was traded to the Minnesota Twins for pitcher Jack Kralick.
Perry spent the next five years with the Twins shuttling between the bullpen and the starting rotation. Despite posting consistently solid ERAs, the most games he won for the Twins came during their pennant-winning season of 1965, when Perry went 12-7 with a 2.63 ERA. That record included a streak of seven consecutive victories – all for a team that, earlier in the year, had put him on waivers!
His career seemed locked in mediocrity until Billy Martin was appointed as the Twins manager for 1969. Martin promptly made Perry his #1 starter. Perry responded with his first 20-victory season, going 20-6 with a 2.82 ERA and leading the Twins to a division championship. He topped that performance in 1970 with a 24-12 season that earned him the American League Cy Young award. He remained a durable starter for Minnesota, and later for Detroit and Cleveland, before retiring in 1975 with a career record of 215-174 with a 3.45 ERA.
A three-time All-Star, Perry was also a good hitting pitcher, batting .199 over his 17-year career with five home runs and 59 RBIs. He finished his career with 32 shutouts.