Research for my next book, about the OaklandA’s dynasty of the 1970s, to be published by Houghton Mifflin in 2015, has turned up boundless examples of unwritten rules from that bygone era. The latest concerns the 1972 All-Star Game, in which Hank Aaron touched Gaylord Perry for a go-ahead homer in the sixth inning. Because it’s Gaylord Perry, the topic is cheating (of course). From the Associated Press:
Hank Aaron, sitting on 659 career home runs, hit a two run homer in the sixth inning, putting the National League up, 2-1, in front of a hometown crowd in Atlanta Stadium. …
“The pitch I hit off him was a spitter. It wasn’t one of his best spitters, but it was a spitter,” Aaron said.
Of course, this was followed shortly by a pro forma denial.
“Man, don’t you know that pitch is illegal? I don’t have any such pitch in my arsenal,” Perry declared.
If ever it was possible to see somebody wink through a 40-year-old statement to the sporting media, this is it.