Rep. Cheri Bustos (D-IL) withdraws support for “Save America’s Pastime Act”

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On Wednesday, we learned about a proposed bill — the misleadingly-titled “Save America’s Pastime Act”, or H.R. 5580 — that aimed to change wording in Section 13 of the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938, which would let teams continue paying their minor leaguers minuscule wages. The legislation was proposed by Congressman Brett Guthrie (R-KY) and Congresswoman Cheri Bustos (D-IL).

As news of the bill went viral on Wednesday, many contacted Bustos through Twitter, Facebook, and other means. Bustos heard the feedback and, as a result, has withdrawn her support for H.R. 5580.

Her statement read:

“Minor League baseball teams are an important part of the economic and social fabric of communities across our nation, including the Quad-Cities and Peoria, in our Congressional District,” Congresswoman Bustos said. “In the last 24 hours, several concerns about the bill have been brought to my attention that have led me to immediately withdraw my support of the legislation.

Sports have been a part of my life for as long as I can remember, and while it’s important to sustain minor league baseball teams that provide economic support to small communities across America, I cannot support legislation that does so at the expense of the players that draw us to stadiums like those in the Quad-Cities and Peoria.

Whether it’s on the factory floor, in classrooms or on the playing fields of one of America’s revered traditions, I strongly support raising the minimum wage and the right to collective bargaining for fair wages, and I believe that Major League Baseball can and should pay young, passionate minor league players a fair wage for the work they do.”

Kudos to Rep. Bustos for being willing to listen to feedback and alter her position on a bill with which she was directly involved.

As of this writing, Guthrie hasn’t said anything further about the legislation.

Gaylord Perry, two-time Cy Young winner, dies at 84

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GAFFNEY, S.C. — Baseball Hall of Famer and two-time Cy Young Award winner Gaylord Perry, a master of the spitball who wrote a book about using the pitch, died at 84.

Perry died at his home in Gaffney of natural causes, Cherokee County Coroner Dennis Fowler said. He did not provide additional details.

The native of Williamston, North Carolina, made history as the first player to win the Cy Young in both leagues, with Cleveland in 1972 and San Diego in 1978 just after turning 40.

Perry went 24-16 in his debut season with Cleveland after 10 years with the San Francisco Giants. He was 21-6 in his first season with the Padres in 1978 for his third and final 20-win season.

“Before I won my second Cy Young I thought I was too old – I didn’t think the writers would vote for me,” Perry said in an article on the National Baseball Hall of Fame website. “But they voted on my performance, so I won it.”

Perry, who pitched for eight major-league teams from 1962 until 1983, was a five-time All-Star who was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1991. He had a career record of 314-255, finished with 3,554 strikeouts and used a pitching style where he doctored baseballs or made batters believe he was doctoring them.

The Texas Rangers, whom Perry played for twice, said in a statement Thursday that the pitcher was “a fierce competitor every time he took the ball and more often than not gave the Rangers an opportunity to win the game.”

“The Rangers express their sincere condolences to Gaylord’s family at this difficult time,” the team’s statement said. “This baseball great will be missed.”

Perry’s 1974 autobiography was titled “Me and the Spitter,” and he wrote it in that when he started in 1962 he was the “11th man on an 11-man pitching staff” for the Giants. He needed an edge and learned the spitball from San Francisco teammate Bob Shaw.

Perry said he first threw it in May 1964 against the New York Mets, pitched 10 innings without giving up a run and soon after entered the Giants’ starting rotation.

He also wrote in the book that he chewed slippery elm bark to build up his saliva, and eventually stopped throwing the pitch in 1968 after MLB ruled pitchers could no longer touch their fingers to their mouths before touching the baseball.

According to his book, he looked for other substances, like petroleum jelly, to doctor the baseball. He used various motions and routines to touch different parts of his jersey and body to get hitters thinking he was applying a foreign substance.

Perry was ejected from a game just once for doctoring a baseball – when he was with Seattle in August 1982. In his final season with Kansas City, Perry and teammate Leon Roberts tried to hide George Brett’s infamous pine-tar bat in the clubhouse but was stopped by a guard. Perry was ejected for his role in that game, too.

After his career, Perry founded the baseball program at Limestone College in Gaffney and was its coach for the first three years.