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American Rambler with Colin Woodward

Jan 25, 2023

A professor at Texas A & M since the late-90s, David Vaught is a longtime baseball fan. A native of the Bay Area, he visited ever-chilly Candlestick Park as a kid and remembered seeing Perry pitch. But while he has loved the Giants, Spitter: Baseball's Notorious Gaylord Perry, grew out of a previous book on baseball. 

San Francisco was just one of many teams Perry played for, including the Indians, Rangers, Yankees, Braves, Royals, and Mariners. As David shows in his terrific biography, Gaylord Perry wasn't just notorious for his use of the spitter, he was also a fierce competitor and often difficult. Perry was a terror to batters as well as the men in the field behind him, management, and owners. Much of his competitive fire was rooted in his hard upbringing in rural eastern North Carolina, where he was the son of tobacco sharecroppers. He was also the younger brother of Jim Perry, who excelled as a major league pitcher.

What are we to make of Perry? Did he deserve to be in the Hall of Fame? A known cheater who lied about his cheating, Perry nevertheless compiled impressive career stats, including more than 300 wins, two Cy Youngs (one in each league), and more than 3,500 strikeouts. He was admired for hiding his "hard slider" from the prying eyes of umpires for many years. But how do we evaluate him in the context of baseball ethics, where rules are often abused and ever changing? Perry was controversial, but should we condemn him? Whatever we make of Perry, David Vaught has written a compelling and well researched book.

Buy David's book here: