Twins great Perry gains entrance to club's Hall

Twins great Perry gains entrance to club's Hall

Twins great Perry gains entrance to club's Hall
MINNEAPOLIS -- When Bert Blyleven was elected into the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown earlier this month, he mentioned two Twins pitchers who served as mentors to him when he first arrived in the Major Leagues -- Jim Kaat and Jim Perry.

Now, one of those pitchers is joining Blyleven in becoming a Hall of Famer this year, but for Perry, it's as a member of the Twins Hall of Fame.

Perry, 75, was selected to be the lone inductee this year. He'll be inducted as the Hall's 23rd member during a special on-field ceremony on June 11, when the Twins host the Rangers at Target Field.

"I am as excited as Bert was," Perry said with a laugh. "I've been wanting to go in there for a long time, and now I'm in there with some of my old teammates. I feel kind of honored being in the same Hall of Fame that they are. My family and friends are so excited. I think they are all coming for the induction, and I don't know if that stadium will be big enough for all of them."

Perry, a two-time All-Star while with the Twins and the 1970 American League Cy Young Award winner, was chosen by a 55-member committee consisting of local and national media, club officials, fans and previously elected members. The rules are similar to those necessary for election into the National Baseball Hall of Fame. A player must receive at least 75 percent of the vote to gain entry.

He was the top vote-getter, followed by pitcher Camilo Pascual, second baseman Chuck Knoblauch and pitcher Jim "Mudcat" Grant.

Perry spent 10 seasons of his 17-year career in the big leagues with the Twins, pitching for the club from 1963-72. He was a key member of the '65 team, going 12-7 with a 2.63 ERA while helping to guide the Twins to their first World Series appearance.

During the Twins' run in 1965, Perry began the season pitching out of the bullpen, but was moved to the rotation full-time in July after Pascual went down with an injury. Perry won a stretch of seven straight games that year and said that season provided him with a boost.

"It was a big thing for me, because I knew I had a big part in the Twins' success that year," Perry said. "One of the better pitchers was hurt, and I took over for him. I don't know how I did what I did, but I threw a lot in the bullpen and I kept myself ready. I worked hard like I would be a starter all along. I was going to stay ready so that when they needed me, I was ready to go. And I was glad that I did all that."

Perry certainly made his mark in Twins history. He was the first Twins pitcher to win a Cy Young Award after going 24-12 with a 3.04 ERA in 1970. He led the league with 24 wins and 40 starts that season. His 3.15 ERA ranks first among Twins pitchers with a minimum of 1,000 innings pitched and he's currently fourth on the Twins' all-time list for wins (128) and innings pitched (1,883 1/3).

The right-hander pitched in a total of 630 Major League games over his career, which spanned from 1959-1975. He played for four teams over that time: the Twins, the Indians, the Tigers and the Athletics.

This past August, Perry was back in the Twin Cities at Target Field to take part in the club's 50th season celebration weekend. He was named one of the "50 Greatest Twins" and had a chance to catch up with some of his former teammates in addition to the more recent Twins players that he has watched on television.

One of those former teammates that Perry got a chance to catch up with was Blyleven, who he took as his roommate right after Blyleven arrived as a 19-year-old rookie in 1970. During the 50th celebration weekend, Perry told Blyleven that he would be in Cooperstown in the summer of 2011 for the pitcher's induction into the Hall of Fame even though it was not known whether Blyleven would get in. It was something that meant a lot to Blyleven, who always credited Perry with giving him an example to follow in the Majors and even called the pitcher "dad."

"I was a guy that just liked to work hard," Perry said. "I think Bert and Jim Kaat and Mudcat Grant, guys I roomed with in my career, they all know how hard I worked. I ran a lot. I think the pitchers have to run a lot like I did. When I went to Spring Training I felt like I had to make the team, although I had made the team before that. That made me work harder for when I was called on."

Perry will join many of his former teammates, including Harmon Killebrew, Tony Oliva, Rod Carew, Bob Allison, Earl Battey, Kaat and Blyleven, as a fellow Twins Hall of Famer.

The Twins Hall of Fame is permanently displayed in the Hall of Fame Gallery on the suite level in Target Field as well as on Target Plaza.

Kelly Thesier is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, Kelly's Corner and follow her on Twitter at kellythesier. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.