Former Dodgers lefty Perranoski dies at 84

'Perry' also starred for Twins, coached for Dodgers, Giants

October 4th, 2020

Ron Perranoski, a top reliever and a renowned pitching coach for multiple teams in both roles, passed away on Friday night. He was 84.

Perranoski established himself as a closer for both the Dodgers (1961-67) and Twins (1968-71) before the term became popular. Following his 13-year career as an active player, Perranoski served as a Minor League pitching instructor for the Dodgers (1975-80). He thus contributed to the development of pitching stars Orel Hershiser and Fernando Valenzuela.

Perranoski proceeded to serve as the Dodgers’ pitching coach from 1981-94. During his tenure, Los Angeles ranked first or second eight times among National League clubs. His staffs also led the Majors in ERA five times (1982, '83, '85, '89 and '91).

“Ron Perranoski played a major role in the success of the Dodgers as a great reliever and a mentor to many great young pitchers over his 30-year career in the organization,” said Dodgers president & CEO Stan Kasten.

Perranoski migrated to the Giants in 1995 to serve as coordinator of Minor League pitching. He assisted manager Dusty Baker as bench coach in 1997, when the Giants recovered from a 68-94 finish in '96 to win the NL West with a 90-72 finish.

Perranoski was San Francisco’s pitching coach in 1998-99 before Dave Righetti inherited the role in 2000, a job he held for 18 seasons. Under Righetti, the Giants vaulted to the Major Leagues’ elite ranks, winning the World Series in 2010, '12 and '14 largely on the strength of their pitching. Righetti attributed much of his success to Perranoski’s tutelage.

“He became my mentor,” Righetti said. “The last two years of Spring Training that he was there, I accompanied him everywhere. Everything he did, I watched. Almost everything I did was spot-on from what ‘Perry’ did.”

Righetti, who developed keen powers of observation through approximately 30 years as a closer and coach, sharpened those skills with Perranoski’s influence -- for instance, Righetti said, “Where the body timing is, where the leg should be and where the hand should be at the same time.”

Righetti acknowledged that Perranoski helped him refine the patience required from all coaches.

“I had a little hothead in me still,” Righetti said, “and he didn’t have any in him.”

Perranoski began gaining his poise after he signed with the Chicago Cubs out of Michigan State University on June 9, 1958. He joined the Dodgers on April 8, 1960, in a trade for infielder Don Zimmer. Born Ronald Peter Perranoski on April 1, 1936, in Paterson, N.J., he fashioned a 79-74 career record with 178 saves and a 2.79 ERA.

Unlike many relievers of that era, Perranoski was not a failed starter. Like many of his counterparts, Perranoski routinely made multiple-inning appearances. He amassed 1,170 2/3 innings in 736 outings (excluding one four-inning start as a rookie). “Perry” ranked sixth or higher in saves among NL relievers in 1962-65 and ’67. He finished fourth in Most Valuable Player balloting in 1963, when his 16-3 record generated a Major League-high .842 winning percentage. He also led the NL with 69 appearances while recording 21 saves and a 1.67 ERA. Perranoski thus grew to be an integral part of the Dodgers teams that won three NL pennants between 1963 and '66.

With Minnesota, Perranoski became one of the first relievers to accumulate at least 30 saves in back-to-back seasons, totaling 31 in 1969 and 34 in 1970 -- both league-high figures -- as the Twins won the American League West title in each season.

Perranoski is survived by his sister, Pat Zailo of Fairfield, N.J., and three sons -- “Pope” Perranoski of Orange, Calif., Brad Perranoski of Palos Verdes, Calif., and Michael Perranoski of Thousand Oaks, Calif.

Funeral services are pending.