Giants retire Perry's No. 36

Giants honor Hall of Fame pitcher Perry

SAN FRANCISCO -- Surrounded by family, friends, former teammates and adoring fans, Gaylord Perry made more history Saturday night when his No. 36 was retired by the San Francisco Giants in a pregame ceremony on the field in SBC Park.

Perry, who was inducted to the Hall of Fame in 1991, eight years after completing a 22-year career that saw him win 314 games, wears a Giants cap on his plaque in Cooperstown.

On Saturday night, the Giants returned the favor with a 35-minute ceremony that featured about 20 members of the Perry clan, who flew over from North Carolina in a chartered jet, and a who's who of Perry's former teammates and fellow retired Giants numbers.

Only four other players -- Willie Mays (24), Orlando Cepeda (30), Juan Marichal (27) and Willie McCovey (44) -- have had their numbers retired as San Francisco Giants, and all four were sitting near the podium that was set up a few feet in front of Perry's old domain, the pitcher's mound.

Perry wore a suit and tie and a Giants cap and sat alongside those legends as well as former teammates including Mike McCormick, Jim Davenport, Ed Bailey, Bob Bolin, Matty Alou and current Giants manager Felipe Alou.

Longtime Giants radio man Lon Simmons was the master of ceremonies and regaled the SBC Park crowd with a few tales of Perry's exploits on the field, but nothing drew louder applause than when Simmons said, "The Giants have been around for 122 years and we have more Hall of Famers than any other team, including the Yankees."

Simmons read a message to Perry from his former Giants manager, Herman Franks, who said, "You were the easiest to give the ball to and the toughest to take it away from."

Perry's career numbers and Giants numbers prove that statement.

The right-hander, who has become more well-known for occasionally doctoring the baseball than torturing opposing hitters, has no-doubt Hall credentials.

Perry was the only pitcher to win a Cy Young Award in both the National and American League until 1999. He pitched a no-hitter with San Francisco vs. St. Louis on Sept. 17, 1968, twice led the NL with 23 wins in 1970 and 21 in 1978, and paced the AL in victories in 1972 with Cleveland, going 24-16 with a 1.92 ERA.

For his career in San Francisco, Perry posted a 134-109 record and a 2.96 ERA, and went 21-8 in 1966. He shared the Giants' roster with current manager Alou in 1962 and 1963, Alou's last year with the club. He pitched for eight big league teams, was an All-Star five times and is a member of the 300-win, 3,000-strikeout club.

Before the ceremony, Felipe Alou remembered Perry as a rare talent.

"He's a legitimate Hall of Famer," Alou said. "When the Giants signed him, he was a prospect, a can't-miss type of guy. He was a tremendous pitcher since the day they signed him."

Alou mentioned that when he was Perry's teammate for the Escogido Lions of the Dominican winter league, Perry would pitch twice a week there and logged 120 innings in the three-month season before heading back to the States to resume his job as a Major League starter.

"He was a tireless competitor," Alou said.

Alou would later go on to face Perry as a batter, but said he never saw the famous spitball come out of Perry's hand.

"He didn't throw it to me, maybe out of friendship," Alou said. "He threw me a slider, a fastball and a curveball. It was enough to get me out."

Back on the field before the game, the Giants played a video tribute to Perry on the scoreboard Jumbotron in center field before Cepeda, the last Giants player to have his number retired, in 1999, said a few words.

"Playing with Gaylord was a privilege," Cepeda said. "When they traded me to St. Louis, he greeted me with four balls right at my head. But he was a great friend."

After Cepeda spoke, McCormick, the 1967 National League Cy Young Award winner, said a few words about Perry's fire on the mound.

"He would knock his mother down if it meant getting somebody out," McCormick said, before calling Cepeda back to the podium to present a framed vintage No. 36 uniform to Perry.

Then Giants president Peter Magowan read off a list of Perry's impressive accomplishments in the game before making the long-awaited official announcement.

"No Giant will ever wear this number again," Magowan said, before pointing to the facade of the second deck in left field, where a black sheet was moved up to reveal No. 36, hanging in between Cepeda's No. 30 and McCovey's No. 44.

Orange, black and silver streamers and balloons flew around the park while the fans gave Perry a standing ovation, summoning him to the podium. Perry high-fived his family and former teammates and friends and waved to the crowd.

Perry didn't have a speech prepared. Instead, he simply offered thanks to all of his family members for coming and then thanked everyone sitting by him.

He concluded his brief words by thanking the San Francisco fans.

"You've always been great to me," Perry said. "Believe me, I'll always be a San Francisco Giant."

Perry then drove around the park in a vintage 1970s convertible Mustang with his No. 36 on the doors. He threw autographed baseballs into the crowd.

It has not yet been determined if those balls were coated with Vaseline.

Doug Miller is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.