Lefthanded Hitting, Righthanded Throwing First Baseman
Braves Seasons: 1983-89
.270/.337/.376 , 37 HRs, 246 RBI, 247 RS, 105 SBs
Gerald Perry was a line-drive hitting, basestealing, defensively challenged first baseman for some truly terrible Braves teams. His first four years with the Braves were as a part-timer: he had 39, 347, 238, and 70 ABs. Finally got a fulltime job in 1987 and responded with .270, 12 HRs, and 42 stolen bases. He made the All-Star Team in 1988 — basically because somebody had to go — when he hit .300 and stole 29 bases. Given that that team lost 106 games, and the team BA was – gulp — .242, his feat as the sole bright spot in what is probably the Braves’ absolute nadir is more remarkable.
Unfortunately, he was a pure contact, singles type hitter, and didn’t have enough pop to really play first, and his glove made it unbearable to think of him anywhere else.
Gerald’s defense earned him the sobriquet “The Claw” from his teammates. It was deserved.
Does Gerald belong among Mac’s Immortals? I can’t really make a case for him to be among the best 44 ever, but he’s not a laughable candidate. He certainly falls in the same group as Lonnie and Burroughs, but as noted, they don’t deserve to be there either.
Bonus commentary by Mac: If I’d come up with a system that included Gerald Perry, I probably would have scrapped the system. That didn’t come up, thankfully. My main memory of Perry is that 1988 season when he looked for awhile like he might win the batting title — he was hitting in the .330s in July and .320 on September 7 — but slumped and was held out of the last game to preserve a .300 average. His best contribution to the Braves was that John Schuerholz for some reason traded Charlie Leibrandt for him… Gerald did have a nice secondary career as a pinch-hitter with the Cardinals, hitting over .320 with walks and power in 1993 and 1994. It’d been nice if he’d done that in Atlanta.