All-Time Indians: Jim Perry

Name: James Even Perry     Position: Starting Pitcher    
                  Number: 31      
Tribe Time: 1959-1963, 1974-1975   DOB: 10/30/1935    
Accolades: 1961 All-Star, 2nd Place 1959 Rookie of the Year, Top 21 1960 MVP      
Stats W L W% ERA G GS CG SHO IP H ER HR BB SO WHIP K/9 BAA
Best Season (1974) 17 12 0.586 2.96 36 36 8 3 252.0 242 83 11 64 71 1.21 2.5 .242
Career 70 67 0.511 3.76 204 153 39 13 1,131.2 1,130 473 113 376 452 1.33 3.6 .250

There have been three brother combinations to play for the Indians where one of the players ended up in the Hall of Fame; the Alomars, the Sewells and the Perrys. In these groups Roberto Alomar, Gaylord Perry and Joe Sewell get all the credit for being the superior brother, but even the halves of each pair that didn't make the Hall of Fame have all contributed greatly to Indians history. In this case, Jim Perry was actually the first to be born, make his Major League debut and win an American League Cy Young, all about three years before his brother, Gaylord.

Jim Perry went undrafted and signed as a free agent in 1958 with the Indians and made his MLB debut just a single year later at the age of 23. He burst on to the scene, posting a 2.65 ERA in 153 innings pitched. While this was incredible, he was beaten out for the Rookie of the Year by Bob Allison of the Washington Senators who hit 30 home runs and had made the All-Star team.

The following year, Perry became the staff ace and lead the league in wins (18) and shut outs (4). He again posted a solid ERA, this time a 3.62 and struck out 120 batters, more than he would in each of the next five years. He earned his ace role for another season and lead the team in starts again in 1961, but was no longer the top starter as Mudcat Grant was the only starter with an ERA under 4.00. Perry was significantly worse with a 4.72 ERA and a 1.46 WHIP in 223.2 innings. As often happens, he was recognized for his accomplishments the year before and was elected to the All-Star game despite his struggles.

After another down year in 1962, Perry was traded to the Twins at the beginning of 1963 in exchange for Jack Kralick, who ended up being a similar starter for the Tribe the next few years. With the Twins, Perry reemerged as a star, posting ERAs under four for the next eight seasons (including four seasons under three). In 1969, Perry took third in the Cy Young voting and won the award outright in 1970. 

After a few more seasons of a less impressive nature, the Indians brought Perry back in a three way trade with the Tigers and Yankees in exchange for Rick Sawyer and Walt Williams in 1974. By this time, his brother Gaylord had already arrived in Cleveland and won the 1972 Cy Young. After more than a decade playing apart, the brothers were together for the first time and did something extremely special. The pair were the top two starters on the team and totaled 38 wins and 287 strike outs in 73 starts. Both Perry's held ERAs below 3.00, with Gaylord posting the better 2.51. Unfortunately, the Indians had no other decent starters and little offense, holding the brothers back during the best combined season of their careers.

Just two months into 1975, Perry was traded again, this time to Oakland in exchange for Blue Moon Odom (who only pitched 10 innings for the Indians before being traded to Atlanta). This would be Jim Perry's last season pitching in baseball as he was released and subsequently retired at the end of the 1975 season.

Despite a short time with the Indians, Jim Perry is still one of the greatest pitchers in team history and is one of just 29 players with at least 70 wins. Interestingly, his brother also finished with 70 wins and just one less inning in twenty less starts. The real difference between the two is obvious in the strike out totals (Gaylord: 773, Jim: 452) and overall efficiency (Gaylord: 2.71 ERA, Jim: 3.76). Despite the obvious comparisons to his younger brother, Jim deserves credit for his own accomplishments both as a member of the Indians and of the Twins.

Joseph Coblitz

About Joseph Coblitz

Joseph is the primary writer and editor of BurningRiverBaseball.com and has been since it's inception in 2011. He is a graduate of the University of Akron and currently resides in Goodyear, Arizona the Spring Training home of the Cleveland Indians.

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