Gaylord Perry with the Tacoma Giants in 1961 (photo courtesy of Wikipedia)
On July 20, 1969, pitcher Gaylord Perry hit is his first major league home run. In his 22-year career Perry would amass a batting average of .131 with 141 hits, including 17 doubles, 6 home runs, and 47 RBI. As a Hall of Fame pitcher, however, he’d finish his career with a 3.11 ERA, allowing 399 home runs with a win-loss percentage of .542.
One of the myth’s surrounding Perry is the tale that his manager with the Giants once said, “a man will land on the moon before Gaylord Perry hits a home run.” According to MLB.com’s Cut 4, the story goes as follows:
One day during the ’64 season, [San Francisco Giants Manager Alvin] Dark and San Francisco Examiner reporter Harry Jupiter looked on as Perry smacked some home runs during batting practice. Jupiter told Dark that Perry looked pretty good with a bat in his hands and remarked that the pitcher might even hit a home run one of these days. Dark’s response set in motion one of the weirdest coincidences in baseball history: “Mark my words,” he said, “a man will land on the moon before Gaylord Perry hits a home run.”
And if you don’t believe that, here’s Perry telling the story himself:
Happy Stat-urday! Happy Moon Landing Day!
Our countdown to the moon landing anniversary continues with this photo of the Houston Astros grounds crew (circa 1965), which was tweeted out a few years ago by @AstrosDaily:
The photo reminds us the links between the Houston Astros and the space program and how sport and community are closely intertwined. The Astros and their former stadium, the Astrodome, were named in honor of NASA’s Manned Spacecraft Center in Houston, which had opened its doors in Houston in 1963 (it was renamed Johnson Space Center in 1973). At the Astrodome, Earthmen tended to the astroturf, Spacettes helped you find your seats, and the Astros played baseball.
Check out more cool pics from the Houston Chronicle, Houston History Magazine, Uni Watch, and Getty Images.
The Houston Astrodome in 1965 looking a little extraterrestrial (photo courtesy of Wikipedia).
In 2016, the Washington Nationals’ Presidents donned “space helmets” and moon walked to the finish line of their 4th inning race in honor of a visit by a NASA astronaut.
Just back from spending 141 days on the International Space Station, astronaut Kjell Lindgren visited Nats Park on April 26, 2016. He threw out the first pitch, watched the Presidents’ race from the finish line, and posed for photos with dignitaries, including the Nationals’ mascot, Screech.
Given the team’s proximity to the U.S. Capitol and NASA Headquarters, the Washington Nationals often host politicians, government officials, and the occasional astronaut. But rarely do the Presidents wear tin foil space helmets!
NASA astronaut Kjell Lindgren shakes hands with Blake Treinen, Relief Pitcher for the Washington Nationals after Lindgren threw out the ceremonial first pitch at the Washington Nationals versus Philadelphia Phillies game at Nationals Park in Washington, DC on Tuesday, April 26, 2016. Lindgren spent 141 days aboard the International Space Station from July 2015 to December 2015 as part of Expeditions 44 and 45, and conducted two spacewalks during that time. Photo Credit: (NASA/Aubrey Gemignani)
NASA astronaut Kjell Lindgren is interviewed before he throws out the ceremonial first pitch at the Washington Nationals versus Philadelphia Phillies game at Nationals Park in Washington, DC on Tuesday, April 26, 2016. Lindgren spent 141 days aboard the International Space Station from July 2015 to December 2015 as part of Expeditions 44 and 45, and conducted two spacewalks during that time. Photo Credit: (NASA/Aubrey Gemignani)
NASA astronaut Kjell Lindgren poses for a photo with the Washington Nationals mascot before throwing the ceremonial first pitch at the Nationals versus Philadelphia Phillies game at Nationals Park in Washington, DC on Tuesday, April 26, 2016. Lindgren spent 141 days aboard the International Space Station from July 2015 to December 2015 as part of Expeditions 44 and 45, and conducted two spacewalks during that time. Photo Credit: (NASA/Aubrey Gemignani)
NASA astronaut Kjell Lindgren throws out the ceremonial first pitch before the Washington Nationals take on the Philadelphia Phillies at Nationals Park in Washington, DC on Tuesday, April 26, 2016. Lindgren spent 141 days aboard the International Space Station from July 2015 to December 2015 as part of Expeditions 44 and 45, and conducted two spacewalks during that time. Photo Credit: (NASA/Aubrey Gemignani)
Kjell Lindgren at Nationals Park, 2016. (All photos courtesy of NASA.)
Back in 2011, Japanese astronaut Satoshi Furukawa demonstrated how you can play baseball by yourself on the International Space Station:
Wernher Von Braun, 1960s (photo courtesy of the National Archives)
In nine days the nation will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the moon landing. As part of our baseball celebration of the anniversary, here’s a picture from the 1960s of Wernher Von Braun, who at the time was Director of NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, AL. The National Archives caption on the photo reads, “Dr. Wernher Von Braun … does not appear at ease as he holds a baseball bat before a team of youngsters in this NASA publicity photo.”
According to NASA, von Braun, a former rocket engineer in Nazi Germany, was “the chief architect of the Saturn V launch vehicle, the superbooster that would propel Americans to the Moon.” But apparently even he needed to learn about baseball.
We are just 10 days away from the 50th Anniversary of the Apollo moon landing, and the baseball world is ready to celebrate. To begin the countdown, I thought I’d post a few space-related baseball photos over the next few days. First up, photos from the 1950s when spacesuits designed by B.F. Goodrich were tested on the baseball field the Naval Air Material Center in Philadelphia, PA. In these photos, players wearing the spacesuits played baseball to demonstrate and test out the flexibility of the suits. These were the prototype for what would be worn for Project Mercury.
Photos courtesy of the National Air and Space Museum.
Future twin astronauts Mark (left) and Scott Kelly play baseball in 1971 (photo courtesy of NASA and Share.America.gov)
On July 20, the nation will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the moon landing. Several teams have already had “NASA Day“or “Apollo Day” this year, but there are more to come (see list below). And stay tuned here tomorrow when I’ll start the countdown!
- June 1 – NASA Night – Fresno Grizzlies
- July 5 – Apollo Night – Washington Nationals
- July 6 – Space Night – Hickory Crawdads
- July 12 –
- Space Night – Texas Rangers, a Joey GALiLeO Moon Shot bobblehead is included with special ticket purchase for the game
- Space Night – Round Rock Express
- July 16 – Apollo 11 50th Anniversary Night – St. Louis Cardinals, special ticket includes a bobblehead commemorating the first moonwalk
- July 18 – Apollo-themed game – Cincinnati Reds
- July 20 –
- Apollo Day – New York Yankees
- Apollo Night – Seattle Mariners
- Apollo 11 features – San Francisco Giants
- Space Day – Arizona Diamondbacks
- Moon Landing Celebration – Minnesota Twins
- Trey “Moon” Mancini Bobblehead giveaway – Bowie Baysox
- Steven Dugger “Duggernaut” Bobblehead giveaway – Richmond Flying Squirrels
- Rascal “Space” Bobblehead giveaway – Harrisburg Senators
- Anniversary of Man on the Moon (Or is it?) – Madison Mallards – includes a bobblehead of either Moon Maynard or Conspiracy Moon Maynard “with it being a mystery as to which one of the two fans will receive in their box.”
- Moon Landing Night – Charleston RiverDogs – includes a moon t-shirt for the first 1,000 fans, moon trivia, moonwalking, and moon pies. In addition, during the 7th inning stretch “all fans in the ballpark will simultaneously ‘land on their moon,’ creating the world’s largest moon landing.”
- Apollo 11 Night – San Jose Giants: “Celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon landing with the Giants in what is sure to be an out-of-this-world experience. A special bobblehead giveaway, jerseys and more should lead to a night that eclipses all expectations.”
- July 22 – Apollo 11 Night – Houston Astros – ceremonial first pitch will be thrown out by Neil Armstrong’s son, Rick, and the NASA Mobile Exhibit and Space Exploration Vehicle will be on the Plaza – Orbit “Moon Landing” Bobblehead is included in a spacial ticket package
- July 23 – Summer of ’69: Anniversary of Woodstock and Moon Landing – Southern Maryland Blue Crabs
- July 26 – 50th Anniversary of Neil Armstrong’s Landing on the Moon – Lincoln Saltdogs – the first 1,500 fans will receive a moon baseball giveaway
- July 27 – Mr. Met on the Moon Bobblehead – New York Mets
- July 28 – Moon Landing Tribute Night – Lehigh Valley IronPigs
- September 5 – Throwback Thursday: 50th Anniversary of Landing on the Moon – Lancaster Barnstormers
And for those looking for something a little more irreverent, on July 16, the St. Paul Saints will honor the moon landing with a special promotion that . . . :
“… is 50 years in the making and will be One Small Step for Man, One Giant Mooning for Mankind. On Tuesday, July 16, nearly 50 years to the day of Neil Armstrong becoming the first man on the moon, the first 5,000 fans in attendance will receive a pair of Saints moon boxers. While the far side of the moon is the one that always faces away from Earth, the Saints will give you the backside of the moon with a photo of the moon on the rear end of the boxers. Fans will be asked to slip on their boxers and in a designated inning everyone in attendance will “drop trou” for our version of a ballpark-wide mooning.”