SEATTLE -- Gaylord Perry sat in the home dugout at Safeco Field, looked beyond left field at the site where the old Kingdome used to sit and with a smile, firmly stated, "I'm glad it's gone."
Even though the Kingdome was host to one of Perry's best baseball memories -- his 300th win -- its implosion has done nothing to dampen the 73-year-old's recollection of the moment. The Hall of Famer, who spent nearly two seasons of his 22-year career with the Mariners, was back in town to throw out the first pitch for Friday's game against the Angels. It is the 30-year anniversary of Perry's 300th win, which he accomplished on May 6, 1982.
"It was against the Yankees too, that makes it more wonderful," Perry said. "It's like a hitter getting 3,000 hits, he's going to get to the Hall of Fame. If you get 300 wins, you'll eventually get there. I kind of knew that, so I wanted to keep playing. I lacked three wins before I came here, and they gave me the chance and opportunity to do that."
Perry ended his career with a 314-265 record, 3.11 ERA, 3,534 strikeouts, five All-Star appearances, two Cy Young Awards and a no-hitter. He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1991. Still, he maintains the 300th win as one of his favorite memories.
"We had some great games, had some guys," Perry said of his time with the Mariners. "Like Bud Bulling, [he] was the catcher for my 300th win and he was just the bullpen catcher. The other two catchers got hurt. I always threw to him in Spring Training and every time I warmed up he was my catcher. We worked together and knew exactly what we wanted to do."
Perry, a North Carolina native, was greeted in the dugout by multiple Mariners, including Carolina natives Justin Smoak and Kyle Seager. But one person in a Seattle uniform didn't need any introduction.
Mariners hitting coach Chris Chambliss and Perry played together from 1972-74 in Cleveland, and Chambliss was the starting first baseman when Perry won the Cy Young Award in 1972.
"He was a big reason I won the Cy Young there," Perry said. "He played a great first base, he was just steady baseball. He wasn't the greatest, but he was really good. And he was good every game even, he was consistent. You would count on him -- he hit some home runs for me, had some RBIs and played a good first base, that's all you can ask."