Word came down today that Baseball Hall of Famer and spitball master Gaylord Perry — the first pitcher ever to win the Cy Young Award in both leagues — has died. Since he pitched for so many teams, many of the obituaries currently circulating on the internet are using the photo shown above, from an old-timer’s game in the late 1980s.
Perry even wore that jersey in a SportsCenter commercial:
But here’s something you might not know (I didn’t know it myself until I did a little photo research today): Perry had at least two different versions of this jersey. The one shown above had a traditional headspoon and sleeve piping, but he also had a more modern version with shoulder/side piping and no headspoon (accessorized, oddly, with yellow stirrups):eBay listing:
I have zero memory of the Equitable Old-Timers Series, so I googled it to learn more about it. Quoting from Wikipedia:
In February 1986, Commissioner of Baseball Peter Ueberroth announced a series of old-timers games called the Equitable Old-Timers Series, to be played at each of the then-26 MLB ballparks and sponsored by Equitable Life Insurance company.
The Equitable series started at Fenway Park in Boston on May 17, 1986, and concluded at Riverfront Stadium in Cincinnati on September 20. Equitable donated $10,000 per game to a fund for former major leaguers in need. A traveling group of Major League All-Stars served as the visiting team and played an alumni team at each home ballpark location. The series was held again in 1987, starting in St. Louis on May 17 and ending in Detroit on August 30. In 1988, the series started in Boston on May 14 and ended in Detroit on September 18. In 1989, the series again started in Boston, on May 6, and ended in Montreal on September 17. The 1990 series started in Houston on April 9 and again ended in Montreal, on August 26.
In February 1991, it was announced that the Equitable Old-Timers Series would have a new name and new sponsor: The Heroes of Baseball Series would be sponsored by the Upper Deck Company, with a 24-game series starting on April 14 in Minnesota and ending on September 1 in Montreal. Upper Deck donated $10,000 per game to the Baseball Assistance Team. In 1992, the series was played at each of the then-26 MLB ballparks plus Mile High Stadium, the first home of the expansion Colorado Rockies when they joined MLB the following season. The series was also played during the 1993 season, and at some ballparks during the 1994 season. The final game appears to have been played in June 1995 at Dodger Stadium.
I have to say, I don’t remember any of that. But it explains Perry’s cap and also explains why he had multiple versions of the jersey, because he probably played in the Equitable series for more than one year as part of the traveling “opponents” team.
It should be noted, however, that Perry was not the first old-timer to wear this type of jersey. That honor, I’m pretty sure, goes to Casey Stengel, as seen in these pics from 1975:
Getting back to Perry, two final thoughts on him: First, after his playing days were over, he was a peanut farmer, and his peanuts had a great package design featuring a little illustration of his unmistakable pitching motion:
Second, I read Perry’s 1974 book, Me and the Spitter, when I was 10 years old and really enjoyed it. Recommended reading from one of baseball’s real characters. R.I.P.
(My thanks to @quirkyresearch for the SportsCenter ad.)
I’m pretty sure Casey is the only one to have worn the uniforms of all four New York teams while they were actually in New York. Jose Vizcaino, Ricky Ledee, and Daryl Strawberry played for the Yankees, Mets, Dodgers, and Giants, but the latter two were long gone from New York by then. RIP Gaylord (loving the yellow stirrups, BTW).
This is one of my favorite Rickey Henderson bits of trivia, but Rickey was almost in that all current/former NY clubs too if he played for the Giants. Not only that but he would have also been the first person to play for all five teams that California their home.
Why couldn’t Rickey have played in SF instead of one of his tenures in Oakland?
Rickey was almost traded from the Yankees to the Giants in 1989, but used his no-trade clause after he learned they were going to have him bat fifth in the order. He was traded to Oakland instead for his second stint there and made the Giants rue their decision in the World Series four months later.
I think the yellow stirrups in the second image may be a way of including Padres colors in the uniform. It appears his belt had some Giants orange in it, and then red, white, and blue would cover the rest of the bases, so to speak. Just an idea.
We NEED a photo of Casey’s hat…what on earth is going on there?!
A few more photos here: link
Looks like the logos of his different teams have been placed around the cap.
Wow I’d never seen those Stengel photos. He died just a month later.
Was going to say–he looks like he’s about 150 years old in those pics!
I am Gaylord’s sons best friend. I accompanied Gaylord to several Equitable Old Timers games. They yellow stirrups were ones he had from coaching Limestone College baseball team. So he wore those to say hey oook at Linestone
I’m surprised you didn’t include the “man on the moon” home run quip with this story.
Apparently his manager said a man would walk on the moon before Perry would hit a home run. He hit his first career home run 10 minutes after Neil Armstrong set foot on the moon.
Wasn’t aware of that. Thanks for sharing!
I thought Armstrong stepped out onto the moons surface around midnight? My mom tells the story of my grandparents waking her up out of bed to watch it. Not doubting the story,but maybe it wasn’t literally 10 minutes later?
Perry homered in the third inning of a game that started at 1:00 pm PT in San Francisco on Sunday July 20th.
According to Wikipedia, the lunar module set down on the Moon surface at 20:17 UTC (1:17 PDT?)
Armstrong set foot on the moon 6 hours and 39 minutes later.
So if all of that is accurate, Perry did homer very soon after man landed on the moon.
“One small step for a man, one giant homer for Mr. Vaseline.”
one of my favorite Jack Perry stories he told me about his dad. I have told it 100 times was the Man will Walk on the Moon before Gaylord Perry hits a home run!
What is a “headspoon”? Google was unhelpful.
Forget Google — consult the Uni Watch Glossary!
Ok, now that should be on a t-shirt:
“Forget Google — consult the Uni Watch Glossary!”
And nothing else.
Uni-Watch > Google
Is there a reason one instance above is stylized with a zero? (headspo0n)
Just a typo. Now fixed.
Great post Paul. Upon super close inspection of the Gaylord Perry jersey versions, I believe they are the same base jersey and for some reason someone felt the need to change the headspoon and piping, which would not be that difficult.
The headspoon one seems to be a doctored Braves jersey (not the number and name styling in the ESPN commercial). The other one looks like a doctored Cleveland jersey from that era (racing stripes down the sides). Both were teams he played for and thus was likely representing in those games.
This tweet from Chris Creamer suggests there might be a third version of the jersey, but it’s not clear if this was ever worn in a game (not sure of his source for the photo).
Also, it looks to me like the jersey in the first photo might be a 90s Atlanta Braves jersey (based on the headspoon and sleeve piping), and the pants might be Atlanta Braves pants from the early 80s sansabelt days (with the red and royal blue stripes).
That other one Creamer posted looks like a doctored Mariners jersey, again from that era, the yellow-S cap jersey.
Funny! Since you and I are within a few months of the same age, Paul, I was probably reading Me and the Spitter at around the same time you were, back around 10 years old. It’s a great memory, and I wouldn’t mind reading it again.
I read it because part of it was excerpted in Sport magazine, which I subscribed to at the time. The excerpt was great, so I got the book!
Great post about a great character and a great baseball player. And I love those pictures of the Perfesser as well.
Headspoon and the Chicago cultural center Tiffany dome restoration, my two contributions that will outlive me
Anyone notice that the “Phillies” on Casey’s jersey does not appear to be in the proper letter font, unlike
the other teams represented? The Phillies, to my knowledge, have always had either Phillies in script, or the letter P in block or Old English font. Great uni nonetheless.
Casey played for the Phillies in ’20 and ’21 when they were using the block P, so while that’s not the exact right font (the Phils’ block P had serifs), it’s a better representation of the Phillies’ iconography from when he was on the team than any of their more ornate logos or scripts.
Thanks for the reply. It sorta stood out from the other logos on the jersey. Almost looks like it was added as an afterthought.
Surely you remember Luke Appling’s home run at age 75 in the first Equitable Old-Timers Game. As a bonus, it came with Red Barber in the broadcast booth.
Ah, indeed. Thanks for the memory-jog!
On Casey’s jersey, the word mark for the Phillies looks so generic compared to the other teams recognizable scripts. Did the Phillies actually use that block font?
I attended the Equitable Old Timer game at Fenway that had Yaz and Ted Williams playing on the Red Sox. This was the last time Yaz every stepped to the plate at Fenway in uniform. He batted against against Cardinal great, Bob Gibson.
Great ballplayers still get old. Fans still revere them.
Yet the old-timers games have faded away.
I wonder why. -C.
Actually, the Mets revived Old-Timers Day this past season.
In general, though, sports marketing seems increasingly geared toward youth and the future, not nostalgia, so old-timers don’t really fit that model. As is so often the case, this is because of lifestyle merchandising.
The Luke Appling home run was in the CrackerJack old timers game that ran from that first one in 1982 until the end of the 1980’s-early 90’s. At that first game since they were playing in Wasington D.C. RFK stadium was set up for football and left field was somewhere around 250-260 ft. I remember it well because that was the early days of ESPN and that first game ran a lot on the “worldwide leader” and I saw it a lot. I also remember on the left field wall a sign for MLB to return to Washington. I guess that movement was delayed a bit.
The headspoon jersey looks a lot like a Braves blank, while the shoulder/side stripes one looks a lot like the Cleveland silhouette from the late ’80s