With the news of the recent passing of Hall-of-Famer Gaylord Perry, it seemed time to tell the stories of two unusual games he was involved in against the Detroit Tigers.
Perry was opposing pitcher when Billy Martin picked the Tigers’ lineup out of a hat
Gaylord Perry, the Hall-of-Famer who died last week, pitched against the Tigers 25 times in his career. He made 25 starts against them with no relief appearances and was 13-9 with a 2.73 ERA, 15 complete games and four shutouts.
However, the Tigers fared better against him at Tiger Stadium, where he was 5-6 with a 2.86 ERA, nine complete games and three shutouts.
But in reviewing Perry’s starts against Detroit, two have larger spots in Tigers lore than any others. The first was August 13, 1972, and the contending Tigers were skidding. They had lost four games in a row and 10 of their previous 12, and they had scored a total of three runs in their previous four games.
Tigers manager Billy Martin felt he had to take drastic measures, so he decided to put the names of the nine Detroit hitters into a hat, and how he pulled them out would be his lineup that day. Perry was pitching for Cleveland, so it was going to be a test anyway.
The first name out of the hat was slugging first baseman Norm Cash, who normally hit in the fourth or fifth spot. The No. 2 hitter was Jim Northrup, who usually slotted into the sixth or seventh spot. Willie Horton landed third, followed by light-hitting shortstop Ed Brinkman fourth. Tony Taylor batted fifth, Duke Sims sixth, Mickey Stanley seventh and Aurelio Rodriguez eighth. Martin kept pitcher Woodie Fryman in the ninth spot.
Horton homered in the first inning to give the Tigers a 1-0 lead, but Cleveland scored in the second and fourth to take a 2-1 lead. The Tiges had four hits through the first five innings before breaking through in the sixth. Horton delivered a two-out single before tied it with a double to right. Taylor was next and singled to center to score Brinkman with the go-ahead run, and the Tigers held on for a 3-2 victory.
Martin’s “hat trick” had worked, and two guys who never hit in the middle of the lineup – Brinkman and Taylor – delivered from those spots. Perry went the distance and took the loss, while Fryman threw a complete game for the win.
Joe Falls of the Detroit Free Press wrote, “(Billy) went with a pot-luck lineup that was actually pulled from his hat. Naturally, everyone tried to laugh about it. That was the idea – to relieve the tension. Darned if it didn’t work.
“It was a move born of desperation, and it was only too bad people like Hank Greenberg and Rudy York were not available for comment.”
An American League first! Gaylord Perry started against his brother, Jim, of the Tigers, in 1973
In the middle of the summer of 1973, Gaylord Perry started against his brother, Jim, a pitcher for the Tigers. It was the first time in American League history that two pitching brothers started against each other.
“Obviously, I’m going to feel a little different,” Jim said in the Detroit Free Press. “But I think this is a good thing for baseball. It should have happened a long time ago. You know, something like this might never happen again – and I’m just glad to be a part of it.”
It was July 3, 1973, and the game was played at Cleveland Stadium. Unfortunately, the hype was greater than reality. Neither pitcher fared well. Norm Cash got things going for the Tigers with a two-run homer off Gaylord in the top of the first inning, and Charlie Spikes answered for Cleveland with a three-run homer off Jim in the bottom of the fourth.
Oscar Gamble added a solo home run off Jim in the sixth to extend Cleveland’s lead to 4-2, sending Jim to the showers after five and two-third innings. Cash led off the top of the seventh with a solo home run off Gaylord, and singles by Jim Northrup, Rich Reese and Ed Brinkman scored two more runs to give Detroit a 5-4 lead and drive Gaylord from the game.
From there, both bullpens shut down the other team, and the Tigers escaped with a 5-4 victory. Jim did not factor in the decision, but Gaylord was saddled with the loss, dropping him to 8-11.
The day before, a few things of note happened. The Tigers signed a young man who had been serving time in the prison in Jackson. His name was Ron LeFlore, who went on to star for the Tigers later in the decade. Also, racer Swede Savage died of injuries he suffered during the Indy 500.
Six years later, the Tigers were again involved in a game where brothers started against each other on the mound. Detroit’s Pat Underwood made his major-league debut against his brother, Tom, of the Toronto Blue Jays, and the Tigers won 1-0 on May 31, 1979.