Ted Williams used to say that pitchers were stupid by trade. He had little respect for the men that tossed the ball that he pounded all over Fenway, but The Splendid Splinter saw something in Peters that he liked. The greatest hitter of his generation liked the way Peters moved his fastball around, popping the corners with his fluid southpaw delivery. It wasn’t easy to impress Ted Williams, but Gary Peters did just that.
Peters was originally called up by the White Sox in 1959 but spent the next three years bouncing up and down from the minors to the Major Leagues. In 1963, Gary had his breakout season, leading the AL with a 2.33 ERA. A 19-game winner, Peters tied with Hall of Famer Whitey Ford for fourth in the AL in the strikeout department. The power-pitching southpaw won the Rookie of the Year Award and was the most stingy pitcher in baseball at giving up taters. Also, Peters had the stuff that missed bats. He averaged just 0.79 hits per inning while Hall of Fame peer Whitey Ford averaged 0.89.
Gary was a 20-game winner in 1964, tied for the league lead in victories. He eclipsed the 200 strikeout plateau (finishing fourth in the AL) and tossed the second most innings in the junior circuit. The Pale Hose got a terrific season out of Gary who posted a nifty 2.50 ERA and missed bats with amazing regularity. He averaged just 0.792 hits per inning while Hall of Fame peers Ford (0.865), Robin Roberts (0.995), Bob Gibson (0.871) and Jim Bunning (0.873) were all WAY more easier to hit.
Gary led the AL with a 1.98 ERA in 1966 but he managed just 12 wins pitching with a punchless offense as his support. As a team, the 1966 White Sox resembled their fabled “Hitless Wonders” of The Deadball Era, hitting for a team average of just .231. He was offered a little more support in ’67 when he won 17 games and posted a tidy 2.28 ERA. He had his highwater mark in strikeouts with 215 (second most among Major League southpaws) and still eluded bats with the best of them. Peters surrendered just 187 hits on 260 innings.
A multi-talented star in the mold of Schoolboy Rowe and Don Newcombe, Peters was often asked to pinch-hit. An exceptional athlete, Gary fielded a perfect 1.000 in 1968 and socked 19 career homeruns. In 1969, Gary led the White Sox in strikeouts and shutouts but he was sent to the Red Sox in a trade after the season.
For Boston, Gary won 16 games and tied for second in the league with four shutouts. He won 14 games the next year but he had lost the stuff that missed bats and surrendered more hits than innings worked – something Peters rarely did. He pitched one final year with Boston before ending his career.
W 124/L 103/PCT .546/G 359/CG 79/IP 2,081/H 1,894/BB 706/SO 1,420/SHO 23/ERA 3.25