The Donald Trump statue and Tony Bennett statue were not the only new, chiseled sculptures unveiled in San Francisco last week. The San Francisco Giants unveiled a new statue Saturday of their Hall of Fame pitcher Gaylord Perry, whose larger-than-life likeness will forevermore guard AT&T Park’s Second Street Gate alongside the Orlando Cepeda statue. Gaylord Perry is Major League Baseball’s most beloved openly admitted cheater in the game’s history, and his highly stage-crafted statue unveiling can be seen in the video below.

Gaylord Perry’s Hall of Fame plaque ascribes his success to “playing mind games with hitters”. That’s putting it kindly. Perry was such an unapologetic cheater that he published a memoir on how to cheat at MLB pitching while he was still an All-Star MLB pitcher.

The 60s and 70s were a different era in Major League Baseball, a time when games were played in giant concrete football stadiums, when outfields were made of astroturf, and everyone’s all-American role model was a guy named Pete Rose. Fans did not yet know about Rose’s gambling or many players' steroid use, and the concept of “cheating” was limited to acceptable, boys-will-be-boys antics like watering the base paths, stealing signals, and doctoring baseballs.

Perry’s specialty was the spitball, a tactic by which he altered the baseball with Vaseline or the most innovative water-based personal lubricants of the day. What he lacked in velocity, he made up for in his pitches’ curious tendency to drop from the strike zone just as they crossed the plate. You’ll note Perry’s constant rubbing of the back of his neck and the brim of his hat in the vintage baseball video below.

SF Giants Career (1962-1971)
“I was the 11th man on a 10-man pitching staff,” Perry told David Letterman in a 1983 interview, describing the dismal 1964 start to his Giants career. “I’m the last guy down there. The catcher doesn’t want me up. The cops warmed me up in the bullpen, that’s how bad I was.”

The Giants were pressed into using Perry in the second game of a double-header, and he caught magic. “Catcher comes out and says ‘I think it’s time for you to bring everything you got’,” Perry remembered of that game. “It was hot that day so I put a lot grease on my hair, and it made the ball do funny things. I kept doing the same old thing for years.”

That greasy mojo elevated Perry to the Giants' starting rotation with Juan Marichal. He roared out to a 20-2 start in 1966, threw a no-hitter in 1968 and led the league in wins in 1970. Those Giants were perennial pennant contenders, but only made the playoffs once (1971).

Post-Giants Career (1972-1983)
The Giants traded Perry to Cleveland following that 1971 season for a fastballer named Sam McDowell — one of the worst trades in Giants history. Perry would win a Cy Young Award that season, while McDowell had his worst season ever, fell out of the starting rotation, was traded the next season, and all along was a raging alcoholic. (Fun Recovery Fact: McDowell drank his way out of the league, completed rehab, became a successful businessman, and served as the inspiration for Ted Danson’s “Sam Malone” character on Cheers).

In his final season, Perry played a minor but hilarious role in the 1983 George Brett pine tar incident. When Brett threw his homicidally enraged tantrum over a home run being called back on account of a doctored bat, Perry clandestinely stole the incriminating bat so umpires could not review it for foreign substances. The theft was unsuccessful, though, and the umpires recovered the bat from Perry.

But Gaylord Perry did not last 22 years in the league and make the Hall of Fame based on cheating alone. Most of Perry’s “doctorings” of the baseball were pure theatrics — he rubbed his neck, eyebrows and hat brim in ways that psyched out the batter to convince opponents he was cheating when he actually wasn’t. Gaylord Perry was the first pitcher to win a Cy Young Award in both the NL and AL, he compiled more than 300 career victories, and his statuesque presence will now be a part of our Giants ballgame experience for years to come.

The Gaylord Perry statue, designed by sculptor William Behrends, remains on display at AT&T Park along with statues of former Giants Orlando Cepeda, Juan Marichal, Willie Mays and Willie McCovey.