Minnesota Twins Spring Training Countdown: 31, Twins first Cy Young

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - APRIL 14: Johan Santana
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - APRIL 14: Johan Santana /

The Minnesota Twins are just 31 days away from spring training. As we celebrate the end of the blustery temps and the return of the game we love, let’s look at team history surrounding that number.

The Minnesota Twins are preparing for a 2018 season with expectations after making the playoffs in 2017 as a Wild Card. We will have bring out numbers from team history that represent the number of days until spring training from now until pitchers and catchers report on February 13th.

The Minnesota Twins have enjoyed a number of elite pitchers through their history. We explored some of the best staffs of team history a month ago. However, today, we will look at the guy who wore the uniform #31 and was the first Twins hurler to win the Cy Young Award, Jim Perry!

Pre-Twins career

Perry is the older brother of the two elite Perry brothers who pitched in the major leagues, with Jim winning 215 games in his career and his brother, Gaylord Perry, winning 314 games. He attended Campbell University (as did Gaylord) before signing with the Cleveland Indians.

After three minor league seasons, Perry made his major league debut in 1959 with the Indians. He won 18 games in his second full season in the major leagues, tied for the American League lead, and he made the All-Star game in 1961.

Perry was traded in May of 1963. In his first four-plus years of his career with the Indians, he had totaled 842 innings over 160 appearances (111 starts), with a 3.87 ERA, 1.35 WHIP, 8.2% BB, and 10.4% K.

Perry’s time with the Minnesota Twins

Perry worked as a swing man for the first six seasons of his Twins career, throwing in 215 games, 99 of them starts. Perry showed his rubber-armed nature in being able to work as a closer and also go deep into games, tallying 23 complete games and 30 games finished.

Perry was a significant contributor to the 1965 World Series team, throwing in 36 games, 19 of them starts, pitching 167 2/3 innings, with a 2.63 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, and a 47/88 BB/K. He made two appearances in the World Series against the Dodgers, throwing 4 innings.

He moved full-time into the rotation in 1969, and he won 20 games in his first season, throwing 261 2/3 innings over 46 games, 36 of them starts. He topped that off with an excellent start against the Orioles in the 1969 American League Championship Series, going 8 strong innings, but the Twins lost the series.

Then came 1970, Perry’s second full season in the rotation for the Twins. He made 40 starts, leading the American League in that category, and he completed 13 of them. Perry led all of baseball in 1970 with 24 victories, throwing 278 2/3 innings with a 3.04 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, and a 57/168 BB/K ratio. After the season, he was awarded the Cy Young Award as the American League’s best pitcher.

Perry was selected to the All-Star team in 1970 and 1971. He would start in the rotation for two more seasons before the Twins traded Perry in spring training of 1973 to the Detroit Tigers.

Post-Twins career

Perry had a middling season for the Tigers in 1973. He went 14-13 with a 4.03 ERA over 203 innings with a 1.38 WHIP and a 55/66 BB/K ratio.

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The next spring, Perry was traded back to where his career began, the Cleveland Indians. He had a revival season with the club, making 36 starts and tossing 252 innings. He posted a 17-12 record with a 2.96 ERA and 1.21 WHIP with a 64/71 BB/K ratio.

The following season, Perry struggled, and the Indians traded him to the Oakland Athletics, where he finished out the 1975 season fairly well, but not up to his previous standards either.

Overall in his 17-year career, Perry won 215 games with a 3.45 ERA and a 1.26 WHIP. In his 10 years in Minnesota, Perry tallied 128 of those wins, with a 3.15 ERA and 1.20 WHIP.

Perry was elected to the Minnesota Twins Hall of Fame in 2011. He’s in the top 5 in a number of pitching statistics in team history and is a major piece of Twins history on the mound, but certainly he’ll always be the first to win a Cy Young in a Twins uniform.

Next: Twins 5 best OFs

For 31 days to spring training, we’ll remember #31 for the Twins for bringing home the first pitching hardware for the club (with quite a few more to come)!

Come soon, spring!!