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Gaylord Perry's five best Giants starts

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Looking back on it, trading Gaylord Perry for Sam McDowell might have been misguided

I had a photo of Young Gaylord all ready to go, but the photo tool hated it, so you know what, screw it
I had a photo of Young Gaylord all ready to go, but the photo tool hated it, so you know what, screw it
Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

Gaylord Perry's getting a statue this year! Well, the Giants are getting a statue in the likeness of Gaylord Perry and displaying it outside their baseball stadium. Whether he'd prefer to receive it personally and keep it in his living room is between him and his architect.

However, since the Giants recently announced the Gaylord Perry statue, it seemed like a good time to go over some of his best games in a Giants uniform.

Honorable mention: July 25, 1969

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You could definitely make an argument for this one as one of the top 5, considering that Perry went 12 dang innings and only allowed one run. Here's the arbitrary reason it didn't make it: the Giants lost. This doesn't reflect badly on Perry; Bob Gibson singled off Frank Linzy and came around to score in the 13th inning. But it's enough. The team lost. Gaylord Perry only struck out nine hitters. So this outing is relegated to a strong sixth place.

5. July 22, 1966

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Look at Gaylord Perry, giving up a run as if that's an okay thing to do. The point of pitching is to prevent runs, and here he was, deciding at one point to do the opposite of that. Sure, you could argue that he struck out 15 and only gave up four baserunners and threw a complete game and struck out fifteen, but come on, man. Show some professional pride.

4. April 12, 1971

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This came against the Padres, who even then were padres enough that the only interesting players in their lineup were Cito Gaston and Nate Colbert. Gaston we know now mostly from winning a couple World Series as Blue Jays manager, and Nate Colbert is known for being the least notable baseball player to be a team's career leader in home runs. It was still a major league lineup, and Gaylord Perry still had no trouble with them whatsoever, striking out eleven and not giving up a single walk. That's a good day's work.

3. August 8, 1964

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Just by the strikeouts, this is a less impressive outing than the previous one on the list. However, that shutout came in a 5-0 game that was never close. This one was a 1-0 Giants win. The level of difficulty was much, much higher here, so even though there weren't as many strikeouts, the pressure was a lot higher on every pitch, and Gaylord Perry came through, even though the team committed two errors, the second of which moved the tying run to second base with nobody out in the ninth. He was pretty good. They should make a statue or something.

2. September 17, 1968

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A no-hitter is number two? A no-hitter that Perry's team won against Bob Gibson? Against 1968 Bob Gibson (could you consider this revenge for the honorable mention game? No, because this one came first, but it's a nice thought), who was the second half of the boss level when it started moving differently, firing faster, and killing you eighty times before you figured out the pattern? And it was a 1-0 game? And this is number two? What could possibly-

1. September 1, 1967

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Oh, yeah, that makes sense. This isn't as hallowed a game in baseball history as the Spahn/Marichal one, for a lot of reasons: the opposing pitcher was Mel Queen, who was no Warren Spahn, Queen didn't get out of the tenth, there wasn't a dramatic Willie-Mays-homer-to-end-it moment, and Perry didn't even pitch a complete game. No, this one went 21 innings, and the winning run scored on a bases loaded walk to Dick Groat, a once excellent middle infielder whose skills had faded, But Gaylord Perry threw 16 innings of shutout ball against a lineup which featured:

 

  • 2 Hall of Famers (Johnny Bench, Tony Perez)
  • 1 Woulda Been a Hall of Famer If He Didn't Have a Gambling Problem (Pete Rose)
  • 1 1967 All-Star  (Tommy Helms)
  • 2 former All-Stars (Vada Pinson, Leo Cardenas)
  • 2 future All-Stars (Tommy Harper, Lee May)
  • 1 pitcher (Mel Queen)
That is a ridiculous, spectacular performance. We kids today can't even understand it, because if a pitcher did half as well – literally half as well, ptiching 8 shutout innings with six strikeouts and one walk – we would load him down with so many superlatives he'd have to rent some storage space just to unload them all. No one pitching performance can put someone in the Hall of Fame, but if you had to point to one performance from a Hall of Famer that showed what he could do at his peak, this would be it.

He had a hell of a career. He was a hell of a Giant. The man earned his statue.