WILLIAMSTON, N.C. (WITN) – Baseball Hall of Famer and two-time Cy Young Award winner Gaylord Perry, a master of the spitball, died Thursday. He was 84.
Perry died at his home in Gaffney, South Carolina at about 5 a.m. Thursday of natural causes, Cherokee County Coroner Dennis Fowler said. He did not provide additional details.
Perry was born in Williamston and played for Williamston High School in the late 1950s.
Inside the high school, now called Riverside, Perry’s baseball jersey hangs, alongside his brother Jim’s.
Phil Woolard, Riverside High School Athletic Director says, “He is the most famous athlete to come out of our area. We’ve had a lot but he had the longest career.He was a guy that we measure pitchers in Martin County by.”
Barney Conway is Williamston’s former tourism director and had the honor of growing up with Perry. He says, “His name will go down in history. He was probably the best-known pitcher around. He had a good attitude about baseball. He had a good attitude about life. He had a good attitude about people. He was just a good person to be around.”
Perry pitched for eight major-league teams from 1962 until 1983. He won the Cy Young with Cleveland in 1972 and with San Diego in 1978 just after turning 40.
He was a five-time All-Star who was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1991.
Perry had a career record of 314-255, finished with 3,554 strikeouts and used a pitching style where he doctored baseballs or made batters believe he was doctoring them. His 1974 autobiography was titled “Me and the Spitter.”
After his career, Perry founded the baseball program at Limestone College in Gaffney and was its coach for the first three years.