Monday October 05, 2020
Ron Perranoski (1936-2020)
The above shot is from Camera Day, 1970, and Twins relief pitcher Ron Perranoski is asking me what was going on with my two missing front teeth. I was 7 and thought the world I encountered was the world as it had always been and always would be, so I remember almost a sense of betrayal when I found out Perranoski had been with the Dodgers earlier in the decade. And that he was better known for being a Dodger? What the? But he was. He led the league in saves two years as a Twin, but with the Dodgers in '63 he went 16-3 with a 1.67 ERA and saved Game 2 of the World Series against the Yankees that the Dodgers won in four. He appeared on a Chuck Conners' TV show. He pitched in the '65 Series against us and gave up some runs—mostly to opposing pitcher Jim Kaat, whose two-out single opened up Game 2 for him. And us. Before he became us. Every post-season after that he faced the Baltimore Orioles ('66 WS, '69 and '70 ALCS), that great Orioles team, one of the best of all time, and it was a tough row. His career ended in 1973, before free agency and increasing wealth, but he stayed in the game, first as a minor league pitching coach for the Dodgers organization, then as the Dodgers pitching coach, then as the San Francisco Giants pitching coach.
My older brother just reminded me that we did have another encounter with him. At Met Stadium we often sat on the wooden benches along the third base/left field side, but one game we wandered the stadium and wound up in the right field stands. We were right above the bullpen, where Perranoski sat with the other relievers. I don't know how he did it but my older brother wound up dropping his glove for Perranoski to sign, and when he pleaded that he was penless, Chris dropped a green marker, too. He signed it on the back of the finger side, in green ink, and my brother had it for years. I remember being very, very jealous.
Perranoski died Friday. I heard about it a day after Bob Gibson's death, which came on the heels of Gale Sayers' death, which came on the heels of the deaths of Lou Brock and Tom Seaver. That's just sports. A one-word tweet from SABR president Mark Armour after the news about Perranoski says it all: STOP! Amen.