Thirty years ago today, one of baseball’s greatest milestones was achieved. On May 6, 1982, veteran spitballer Gaylord Perry won his 300th game, becoming just the 15th pitcher to do so. Making it even more impressive, Perry was the first pitcher to win No. 300 since Early Wynn 19 years earlier.
From 1963-81, the 500 home run club erupted from four members to a dozen. In that same span, the 3,000 hit club had nearly doubled, rising from eight to 15 members. But the 300 win club remained stuck at 15.
In fact, almost all the 300 win clubbers were either 19th century or deadball pitchers. Perry was only the fourth man to have his prime since the emergence of Babe Ruth to win 300 games. Since Pete Alexander joined the club 60 years earlier, just Lefty Grove, Warren Spahn, Early Wynn, and now Perry had done it. Simply put, while it’s always an impressive achievement when someone achieves one of these milestones, Perry’s 300th win was extremely impressive because it was so hard to do in recent memory.
Well, from one angle it was an extremely impressive achievement for Perry. From another angle, it was less awe-inspiring. At the time Perry did it, he was barely hanging on as a pitcher. Perry had been a quality pitcher in his 20s who had a surprisingly strong second wind in his 30s. Actually, he’s one of the game’s greatest late bloomers, as he thrice led the league in wins in his 30s, and twice picked up Cy Young Awards. He won 191 games in his 30s, the fifth highest total in baseball history.
But, after a 21-win Cy Young season with the Padres at age 39 in 1978, age finally caught up to Perry. After a middling 1979 campaign, San Diego traded the rapidly aging Perry to Texas. After four months, Texas sent him to the Yankees. Perry won four games for New York, which let him walk away in the offseason to join another team. Instead, Perry landed with the Braves in 1981. Just three years removed from a Cy Young season, Perry was a below average pitcher for the Braves that year. Right after the regular season ended, Atlanta released him. After five months unemployed, Perry finally signed on with the Mariners in March 1982.
Yeah, in 1982 Perry was on the verge of achieving the hardest of all milestones. He was also playing for his fifth team in four years. What does that sound like? Sounds like a veteran trying to stick around as his talent wound down. He wasn’t bad enough to leave baseball altogether but he wasn’t good enough for any team to keep him for very long. And the teams picking him up were often the dregs—such as the Mariners.
Perry had gone 30-33 from 1979-81, raising his career record to 297-239. Things got off to a dreary start with the Mariners, losing his first two decisions. The losses were largely due to poor run support, but when you’re sitting on 297 wins, you just want to get some Ws. In late April, Perry picked up a pair of victories to even up his record at 2-2 on the year and more importantly giving him 299 lifetime wins.
On May 6, 1982, Perry went for No. 300 for the first time, against one of his recent former teams—the Yankees. Seattle’s often-dormant bat awoke for this game. In the third inning they parlayed three singles, two triples, and a batter reaching on an error to plate five runners, giving Perry all the cushion he would need. The veteran pitcher cruised the rest of the way for a complete game win. It was both his 300th win and also his 297th complete game. And it happened 30 years ago today.
Aside from that, many other events celebrate their anniversary or “day-versary” (which is something occurring X-thousand days ago). Here they are, with the better ones in bold if you’d prefer to just skim the lists.
1,000 days since Vladimir Guerrero hits his 400th home run.
1,000 days since Toronto puts Alex Rios on waivers.
1,000 days since Troy Tulowitzki has a game for the ages, driving in seven runs while hitting for the cycle.
2,000 days since the Cubs sign Mark DeRosa. This works out well for them.
4,000 days since Derek Jeter goes 5-for-5 for the first time in his career. He only does it one other time – the game he joined the 3,000 hit club.
4,000 days since Jeff Brantley plays in his final game.
5,000 days since Mike Piazza gets his 1,000th hit.
6,000 days since Paul Molitor belts his 600th double.
6,000 days since the ball Cal Ripken Jr. hit for a homer in his 2,131st consecutive game played sells at an auction for $41,736.
7,000 days since a new Yankees advertising campaign begins. It focuses on team owner George Steinbrenner.
8,000 days since Nolan Ryan tosses his sixth no-hitter, becoming the oldest man to ever throw one. (He’ll toss another one in his future, though. Today, he walks two while fanning 14).
9,000 days since Keith Hernandez gets his 2,000th hit.
1871 Cap Anson, one of the best players in his generation, makes his debut.
1901 Bill Bergen, the worst hitter ever, makes his debut. The catcher is a fielding whiz.
1902 Giants pitcher Dummy Taylor returns to the team, claiming he’d been kidnapped and thus unable to play recently.
1903 The White Sox tie the all-time AL record by making a dozen errors in one game.
1905 It’s a first in the big leagues—the first tarp. The Pirates roll one over the infield as it rains.
1910 The Giants sign aging left fielder Wee Willie Keeler.
1914 Hall of Famer Mordecai Brown allows the only pinch-hit homer of his career. Gus Zinn is the batter.
1915 One down, 713 to go. Babe Ruth hits his first home run.
1918 Babe Ruth plays first base. It’s his first time as a position player.
1925 Two Tigers star outfielders connect for their 100th home runs: Hall of Famers Ty Cobb and Harry Heilmann. With Cobb, it’s quite a bit more impressive than that. He hit three homers yesterday and two more today, as he is out to prove to the press that he could be a power hitter if he wanted to.
1930 Boston trades starting pitcher Red Ruffing to the Yankees. Ruffing is 39-96 as a Red Sox but will go 231-124 with the Yankees. This trade helps put him in the Hall of Fame.
1931 One of the greats is born—Say Hey Kid Willie Mays enters the world in Westfield, Ala..
1933 Babe Ruth scores run No. 2,000.
1933 The Reds sign free agent Jack Quinn.
1934 Veteran pitcher Sad Sam Jones loses his 200th decision. He’s 214-200 on his career.
1934 While one man loses 200, another wins 200. Former phenom George Uhle wins No. 200 for a record of 200-162. It’s his final career win. He’ll go 0-4 in his remaining contests.
1937 Arky Vaughan triples in his fourth consecutive game.
1937 Yankee pitcher Spud Chandler makes his big league debut.
1938 Minor leaguer Bob Sands of the Newark Bears homers in four consecutive innings. He ends the day 6-for-6 with four homers in a 22-9 win.
1941 Billy Herman, Hall of Fame second baseman, is traded by the Cubs to the Dodgers for two players and $65,000.
1941 Hank Greenberg plays in his last game before joining the military as part of the nation’s peacetime draft. He makes it a memorable one, homering twice and driving in three in a 7-4 Tigers win over the Yankees.
1941 Wes Ferrell, pitcher of Hall of Fame talent (though he’s not in it), plays in his final game.
1945 Red Sox rookie Dave “Boo” Ferriss, in his second career start, tosses his second career shutout. Yeah, that’s a nice way to start a career.
1946 After 11 consecutive hits, Johnny Pesky grounds out to end his streak.
1949 Philadelphia A’s hurler Bobby Shantz, in his second career game, tosses nine innings of no-hit relief versus the Tigers. He tosses 10 innings in all, allowing two hits and walking seven. He gets the win in a 13-inning contest. He allows a run in the final frame, but it’s after the A’s scored two in the top of the inning.
1950 Enos Slaughter gets his 100th triple.
1951 Pirates pitcher Cliff Chambers tosses a no-hitter against the Braves. It’s not a particularly well-pitched one, as he walks eight and allows a wild pitch.
1953 Bobo Holloman tosses a no-hitter for the Browns against the A’s. Browns owner Bill Veeck later says it’s one of the worst no-hitters ever thrown, as the A’s kept drilling the ball, but it keeps going right at the fielders. Making it even more unlikely, this is Holloman’s first career start.
1956 Willie Mays celebrates his birthday by stealing four bases in one game. It’s the first of two times he does it, and is his personal high.
1957 One of the game’s greatest players has one of his worst days. Hank Aaron goes 0-for-6 with a GIDP.
1958 Turk Farrell throws 151 pitches in a relief stint. It’s certainly not the most pitchers in one relief outing, but it is the most known pitches in one relief outing. His line: 8.2 IP, 7 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 4 BB, and 9 K. He enters the game and lasts until the 14th. He is stuck for the loss.
1960 Sandy Koufax is still a year away from being great, but he shows his potential today, fanning 15 in one game. He also allows five runs on seven walks and nine hits in 9.2 innings. He runs out of gas in the ninth as the Dodgers lose, 6-1 in 10 innings.
1960 Vern Bickford, the No. 3 pitcher on the Spahn-and-Sain 1940s Braves, dies at the far too young age of 39.
1964 Then-catcher and later future great pitching coach Dave Duncan makes his big league debut.
1965 For the second time in three games, Willie Stargell homers twice in one game.
1966 Whitey Ford finally loses his 100th game. His record of 232-100 is the best for a man upon loss No. 100 since at least WWI.
1968 Bob Gibson has his best game in his best season. He goes 11 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, and 11 K for a Game Score of 97. He beats the Mets 2-1 in 11 innings. In his previous start, Gibson threw 12 innings surrendering one unearned run. In this game, Bob Gibson allows three straight single to lead off the fourth, and those are the only hits he allows. Tom Seaver goes the distance as the losing pitcher. The loss drops Seaver’s record to 1-2 despite a 1.56 ERA.
1970 Hall of Fame second baseman Bill Mazeroski has probably his worst game at the plate. He’s 0-for-4 with four Ks. It’s his only four-K game. The pitcher is Braves knuckler Phil Niekro, who fans 10 on the day.
1970 Sudden Sam McDowell is too much for the White Sox. Or not. He fans 15, including 13 in the first six innings. However, Chicago has the last laugh, winning 2-1 on a ninth inning homer by Carlos May.
1970 Mets ace Tom Seaver gets his 16th straight win. His line in that span: 18 G, 12 CG, 154.1 IP, 104 H, 32 R, 28 ER, 39 BB, 123 K, and a 1.63 ERA.
1971 NBC pays $72 million for a four-year MLBTV package.
1974 Reggie Jackson gets his 200th home run. In that same game, Reggie’s Oakland teammate Paul Lindblad makes his first error after 385 appearances without one. The relief pitcher makes an errant throw in a loss to the Orioles.
1983 Cal Ripken Jr. enjoys the first of 21 career multi-home run games.
1983 Rod Carew goes 3-for-4 to improve his average on the year to .500! (48-for-96).
1983 Darryl Strawberry makes his big league debut.
1984 Cal Ripken Jr. hits for the cycle.
1984 Old-time pitcher Kirby Higbe dies.
1986 Brewers infielder Cecil Cooper gets his 2,000th career hit.
1987 200-game winner Bob Welch has his best day at the plate. He’s 2-for-3 with a home run, run, and three RBIs, but it’s not enough as the Cubs beat him, 7-6.
1987 The Expos sign veteran Dennis Martinez. Collusion prevented him from singing earlier.
1989 Super Seattle hitter Edgar Martinez gets his first home run.
1989 In the fourth inning against the Angels, Jim Rice flies out, dropping his career average to under .300 (2,434-for-8.127 which equals a .2994955 average). It’ll never be over .300 for him again.
1991 While returning from John Kruk’s bachelor party, Len Dykstra and Darren Daulten are in a one-car accident. Both end up with broken bones.
1991 Rod Beck plays in his first game.
1994 Mets pitcher Anthony Young wins a game, ending a 29-game losing streak as a starter.
1994 Charles Johnson, catcher, makes his big league debut.
1994 The Yankees release aging reliever Jeff Reardon.
1998 Atlanta signs free agent Ozzie Guillen.
1998 Kerry Wood is ready for his close-up. The 20-year-old rookie pitcher fans 20 Houston Astros in a dominating one-hit performance.
1998 On the same time one rookie stars for the Cubs, another former Cubs rookie star Jerome Walton goes out with a whimper. The 1989 Rookie of the Year plays in his last game—and is ejected in it.
2000 Curt Schilling posts his 100th win, giving him a record of 100-84.
2000 Roger Clemens wins his 250th contest. He’s 250-136 in his career so far.
2000 It’s one of the best, and most unlikely pitchers duels of the decade. Well, half of it is very likely as Boston ace Pedro Martinez fans 17 Tampa hitters. However, he’s out-dueled by Steve Trachsel, of all people. Trachsel fans 11 in a three shutout for a 1-0 win. According to WPA, Trachsel has the best pitching performance of the decade with a 0.888 WPA.
2001 Chipper Jones belts his 200th home run.
2001 For the first time in nearly six years, Mike Mussina picks off a base runner.
2001 Houston debuts a new pitcher: Roy Oswalt. Good move by Houston.
2003 Barry Larkin connects for a walk-off, pinch-hit home run.
2004 Mike Piazza has his seventh and final career walk-off home run.
2005 Trevor Hoffman creates the 400 save club.
2005 Paul Wilson has one of the worst starting pitching performances of all-time. He gets no outs and allows eight runs in his start. That’s only happened five times since 1920 and has never been worst-ed by any starter in that span. Rather sadly, Wilson is responsible for two of those five games. In today’s game, all runs are earned, something that happened in only two of those five 0 IP, 8 R starts.
2007 Hideki Matsui doubles. If you combine his Japanese and North American big league hits, that’s No. 2,000.
2007 Giants star Tim Lincecum makes his big league debut.
2007 The Yankees sign free agent pitcher Roger Clemens.
2008 Tim Wakefield has his best career Game Score: 84. His line: 8 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, and 6 K.
2010 All-time great pitcher Robin Roberts dies.
2010 Texas blows a 8-0 lead to the Royals, but comes back for a dramatic 13-12 win. The tying and winning runs score on back-to-back solo home runs.
2011 Nationals pitcher Jordan Zimmerman strikes out the side on nine pitches versus the Marlins in the second inning.