FORT MYERS, FLA. – Jim Perry came from Cleveland to the Twins in a trade for lefthander Jack Kralick on May 2, 1963. Perry was both a starter and reliever over next six seasons.
That changed in 1969, when 36 of his 46 appearances were as starts, and he pitched 261⅔ innings for Billy Martin, the one-and-done Twins manager. A year later, he was the AL Cy Young Award winner.
I was talking with Perry on Friday and this story surfaced:
The Twins were in Seattle to play the expansion Pilots in a four-game series on July 18-20, 1969, in tiny Sick’s Stadium. There was a twinight doubleheader on Friday and a night game Saturday.
“I was starting Sunday and Billy told me to go back to the hotel, have dinner, get some sleep,” Perry said. “I did that, and the game kept going. It was stopped by curfew after 16 innings.
“Between that and the doubleheader, Billy had used all his pitching. I had a call from Billy in the morning and I knew what was coming: ‘Jim, you’re going to finish the suspended game, and then start the second and give me as much as you can.
“I pitched two scoreless innings and hit a double off the wall to start a four-run rally in the 18th. We went in the clubhouse between games and were watching the men on the moon … waiting for Neil Armstrong to come down that ladder.”
A half-hour later, Perry was on the mound again, and he gave Martin a 4-0, nine-hit, no-walk shutout in 2 hours, 10 minutes.
Two wins and 11 scoreless innings was not the most famous feat for the pitching Perrys of Wilmington, N.C., on the day Armstrong took his one small step.
“My brother Gaylord was pitching for the Giants in Candlestick [Park],” Jim said. “He had a manager earlier, Alvin Dark, who said of Gaylord’s hitting, ‘They’ll put a man on the moon before he hits a home run.’
“And Gaylord hit his only big-league home run that day.”
And then Gaylord quipped of our first moon men, “They only beat me by about an hour.”
Plus three from Patrick
Omissions among Twins Hall of Famers from the first generation:
1. Cesar Tovar: He played where needed and was a run-scoring machine for seven seasons. Cesar’s failure to be honored remains a travesty.
2. Halsey Hall: Harry Caray has a statue outside Wrigley Field. We can’t get our greatest character, our Halsey, in the Twins’ Hall.
3. Al Worthington: You can’t look at saves to judge a reliever from the 1960s. Big Red was a stopper (multiple innings), not a three-out closer.