The Cincinnati Red Stockings were the first professional baseball team beginning play in 1869. Over the last 153 years, there are have been thousands of players who have played professional baseball. Many wore the number 22, like Gaylord Perry.
Two of those, pitcher Gaylord Perry who had a 22-year career in MLB, and third basemen Mike Schmidt for the Philadelphia Phillies, were two of my favorite players growing up.
Wait a minute, you say! Gaylord Perry wore 36 most of his career. Mike Schmidt wore 22 most seasons. That would be correct. I am bending the rules for this piece, as you will see in a moment.
I grew up in Akron, Ohio, as a fan of the Cleveland Indians. As a young kid, I was always rooting for the home team. I was also motivated to root for a particular team by the color of the hats. That’s what led me to root for the Philadelphia Phillies as my favorite team in the National League. Those bright red helmets with the big “P” on the hat.
One of the many sports highlights of my childhood was going to old Riverfront Stadium in Cincinnati watching the Big Red Machine led by Johnny Bench, Pete Rose, and Joe Morgan, take on Mike Schmidt and the Phillies.
Schmidt came up to the Phillies in 1972 and wore number 20 for his rookie season, batting just 34 times and hitting the first of his 548 career home runs.
In 1973, Schmidt became a full-time member of the Phillies but hit just .196 in 374 at-bats. Many questioned whether he would ever be the player that many were predicting. For the next 15 seasons, Schmidt would hit no less than 20 home runs, with 13 of those seasons hitting 30 plus homers.
Schmidt retired in 1989 as one of the greatest third basemen in MLB history. Schmidt was voted to the Hall of Fame in 1995 and resides in Dayton, Ohio.
Pitcher Gaylord Perry was my favorite Cleveland Indians player as a young child. Coming to the tribe in 1972 in the prime of his career, Perry would pitch three excellent seasons with the Indians, earning him a Cy Young Award.
The Indians were terrible in the early 70s, and Perry was the bright spot on a team that finished below .500 every season.
The 33-year-old Perry came to the Indians along with shortstop Frank Duffy in 1972 in a trade with the Giants. In addition to winning the Cy Young Award in 1972, Perry went 24–16 with a 1.92 ERA, and one save.A
He was the only Cy Young winner for Cleveland until CC Sabathia won the award in 2007. He was also the AL Player of the Month in June 1974, going 6–0 with a 1.00 ERA. Perry would continue as the ace of the Cleveland rotation until 1975.
Perry had a 70–57 won-loss record during his time in Cleveland. The Indians also never finished above 4th place in his years as the ace in Cleveland. While pitching for Cleveland, Perry accounted for 39% of all Cleveland wins.
Perry’s most famous pitch was the “Spitball.” He was finally ejected on August 23rd, 1982, for the first time for throwing a doctored baseball.
Perry quit the game in 1983 and was a member of the Hall of Fame by 1991. Sadly today, Perry would have no chance at the Hall of Fame with most baseball writers with Hall of Fame votes being part of the cancel culture mob that has become a big part of society. Perry would join many other great players standing outside the hall looking in for throwing a doctored baseball.
What started as two players wearing number 22 their rookie seasons would end up with their enshrinement in the Hall Of Fame
Thanks to two great 22’s Mike Schmidt and Gaylord Perry, for being such an integral part of my childhood.
Who are your favorite players to wear number 22? Let’s discuss in the comments below.