Peter Gammons: A 1982 tale of Gaylord Perry and a foreign substance

Gaylord Perry was honored in Seattle this past week for his place in Mariner history. Winning his 300th game in the HO-scaled Kingdome, for his place in the Hall of Fame with Junior Griffey and Randy Johnson.

When I was covering the Red Sox, a clubhouse worker once gave me a jar of Vaseline from his locker in the visiting clubhouse. He was always coy, clever, humorous about whatever he put on baseballs, and for all the times he was inspected on the mound, only once was he ejected for putting a foreign substance on a baseball.

It was the night of August 23, 1982, against the Red Sox. In the seventh inning, down 1-0 with the bases loaded and two out and facing Rick Miller, who was his nemesis, he threw a pitch that dropped measurably. Umpire Dave Phillips, one of the most respected umpires of the era, jumped out from behind home plate and ejected Gaylord. There was some argument from Perry and M’s manager Rene Lachemann, but it sure seemed obvious to all of us in the building that there was a very mysterious flight pattern to the pitch.

But the reason Perry was ejected was a warning he got in the top of the fourth inning.

And that was, well, divine intervention.

Red Sox outfielder Reid Nichols asked Phillips to check the ball. Phillips did, found some substance, and issued the warning.

So, despite the fact that is was past 1:30 a.m. EDT when the game ended, the story, in my opinion, was Nichols.

So after taking the elevator to the first floor, I was able to get to Nichols in the hallway outside the visiting clubhouse, which, incidentally, had the greatest candy rack in baseball history. Nichols said, “in the bottom of the third inning I was standing at my position in left field and a voice came to me reminding of the scripture that ‘no weapon formed against thee shall prosper.’ So when I got up to the plate in the next inning, I asked the umpire to check the ball.”

And so, eventually, Gaylord Perry was ejected for throwing the post-warning suspicious pitch, proving a weapon formed against one does not prosper.