Gaylord Perry threw the spitball, an illegal pitch that was outlawed in 1920.

It was common knowledge that Perry used the spitball, which he learned from Bob Shaw in 1964 when they were teammates with the San Francisco Giants.

There were many attempts to catch Perry in the act of “loading up.” Most caused great controversy, but none ever resulted in positive proof.

Perry relished the attempts to catch him using the illegal pitch since he believed that batters who thought he was throwing the pitch would be adversely affected.

During the 1971 playoffs between the Giants and the Pittsburgh Pirates, a television reporter asked Perry’s five-year-old daughter Allison if her father threw the greaseball.

“It’s a hard slider,” she responded.

Perry Admitted He Was an “Outlaw”

In 1991, Gaylord Perry, who won 314 games, was elected to the Hall of Fame.

His plaque makes no mention of the spitball accusations or of his admissions in Me and the Spitter;: An Autobiographical Confession, written with Bob Sudyk, that he was familiar with the spitball and the greaseball.

Perry wrote, “I became an outlaw in the strictest sense of the word—a man who lives outside the law, in this case the law of baseball.”

Cheating in Baseball

Cheating is pervasive in baseball, ranging from “gamesmanship” to violence.

Groundskeepers cut the infield grass short or allow it to grow, depending on which would help the home team.

Sammy Sosa, who is the only player in history to have hit over 60 home runs in three different seasons, corked his bat. So did 1961 American League batting champion Norm Cash.

Mark McGwire has finally confessed that he used substances that probably helped his performance, but whose use is frowned upon by those in authority.

McGwire admitted using 4-androstenedione, which is a testosterone precursor produced by the adrenal glands and testes, when it was legal and could be purchased over the counter.

Pitchers scuff up the baseball, throw at batters’ heads, and try to deceive baserunners.

Whitey Ford had a great move to first base that many knew was illegal. In 2010, it is Andy Pettitte who has a great move to first that is questionable.

Cheat to Win

Rogers Hornsby, the greatest second baseman of all time, wrote an article “You’ve Got to Cheat to Win,” in which he claims that he cheated and had seen cheating in almost every game in which he played.

“When I played second base, I used to trip, kick, elbow, or spike anyone I could.” He is not alone.

An illegal pitch paved Gaylord Perry’s path to the Hall of Fame

Rules for election state, “The committee shall consider all eligible candidates and voting shall be based upon the individual’s record, ability, integrity, sportsmanship, character and contribution to the game.”

The committee members who voted for Gaylord Perry must have had a problem with the meaning of integrity, sportsmanship, and character.

Every baseball fan knows what Perry contributed to the game. Most don’t care.


Berkow, Ira. “The Spitter Versus the Hustler.” New York Times. 28 July 1991, p. S7.

Gaylord Perry Biography at SABR


Mark McGwire at Wikipedia

Hall of Fame

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