Tony Perez

Positions: First baseman; Third baseman
Teams: Cincinnati Reds, 1964-1976, 1984-1986; Montreal Expos, 1977-1979; Boston Red Sox, 1980-1982; Philadelphia Phillies, 1983

Tony Perez
Tony Perez drove in 100 or more runs
six times in his 10 seasons as a
Cincinnati Reds regular.

On the "Big Red Machine," the Cincinnati Reds team of the 1970s that was one of the greatest of all time, Tony Perez was the man counted on to drive in the big runs.

The likable Perez was born in 1942 in Ca­maguey, Cuba. He worked some in the sugar fields with his father before earning a chance to play professional ball. At age 19, in his second pro season, he led the New York-Pennsylvania League with a .348 batting average. More significantly, he also knocked in 132 runs to top the league. It was his work as an RBI man that netted him a spot in the Hall of Fame.

Because he played in the shadow of Johnny Bench, Joe Morgan, and Pete Rose, Perez was underappreciated during his career--except by the opposition. Longtime adversary Willie Stargell said, "With men in scoring position and the game on the line, Tony's the last guy an opponent wanted to see."

When Perez retired in 1986, only 13 men in the history of baseball had driven in more runs. He drove in 100 or more runs six times in his 10 seasons as a Reds regular. He belted home 90 or more a dozen times in his career, 11 of those consecutively.

Only Johnny Bench had more RBI in the 1970s. And the Reds won: four pennants and two consecutive World Series. In the 1975 Series, Perez started out cold but got hot when things got tight, homering twice in Game 5 and again in Game 7.

Apparently without ego, Perez was moved around the Cincinnati lineup as his manager needed. Originally a first baseman, he was switched to third in 1967 to make room for Lee May's big bat. When May was swapped to Houston to get Joe Morgan for the 1972 season, Perez returned to first. Seven times he was chosen for the All-Star Game.

Even after his days as an everyday player were over, teams still wanted Perez around as a potent bat off the bench. He played in the World Series with the Phillies in 1983. At age 42, he became the oldest player ever to hit a grand slam.

Because of his slugging style (but not because of his temperament), people compared him to fellow Hall member Orlando Cepeda. The last homer Perez hit, in 1986, tied him with Cepeda for most career homers by a Latin player, with 379. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2000.

Here are Tony Perez's major league totals:


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