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One giant leap for Gaylord Perry

As a motivational speech, it doesn?t quite rank with Knute Rockne?s ?Win one for the Gipper,? but it came darn close to being just as effective.

In 1964, legend has it, Giants manager Alvin Dark said of feeble-hitting pitcher Gaylord Perry: ?They?ll put a man on the moon before he hits a home run.?

Well, that obviously got Perry?s competitive juices going. The race was on.

Five years later, Neil Armstrong and the rest of his NASA team won.

But it was close.

Monday is the 40th anniversary of the first manned moon landing, and it?s also the 40th anniversary of Perry hitting his first big-league home run, after nearly 500 at-bats.

His home run, against the Dodgers? Claude Osteen in a 7-3 Giants? win at Candlestick Park, came about three hours after astronaut Buzz Aldrin declared ?the Eagle has landed.?

About nine hours after Perry?s homer, Armstrong descended from the lunar module and famously proclaimed: ?It?s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.?

For those interested in such archeological digging, the Giants? starting lineup on the day Perry and Armstrong made history was: Bobby Bonds, RF; Ron Hunt, 2B; Willie Mays, CF; Willie McCovey, 1B; Jim Davenport, 3B; Ken Henderson, LF; Hal Lanier, SS; Bob Barton, C; and Perry.

Despite Perry?s home run and the win that gave them a 54-42 record, the Giants, under manager Clyde King (Dark was managing in Cleveland by then, after a stopover in Kansas City), were on their way to a fifth consecutive second-place finish in the era before wild-card playoff teams.


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