Tony Pérez

Last updated
Tony Pérez
Tony Perez All Star Parade 2008.jpg
Pérez at the 2008 All-Star Game Red Carpet Parade
First baseman / Third baseman / Manager
Born: (1942-05-14) May 14, 1942 (age 76)
Ciego de Ávila, Cuba
Batted: RightThrew: Right
MLB debut
July 26, 1964, for the Cincinnati Reds
Last MLB appearance
October 5, 1986, for the Cincinnati Reds
MLB statistics
Batting average .279
Hits 2,732
Home runs 379
Runs batted in 1,652
Managerial record74–84
Winning %.468
As player

As manager

Career highlights and awards
Member of the National
Empty Star.svgEmpty Star.svgEmpty Star.svg Baseball Hall of Fame Empty Star.svgEmpty Star.svgEmpty Star.svg
Induction 2000
Vote77.15% (ninth ballot)

Atanacio "Tony" Pérez Rigal (born May 14, 1942), is a Cuban-American former professional baseball player, manager and a member of the Baseball Hall of Fame. He played as a first baseman and third baseman in Major League Baseball, most notably for the Cincinnati Reds. Variously nicknamed "Big Dog", "Big Doggie", "Doggie", and "The Mayor of Riverfront", [1] [2] the slugging seven-time All-Star earned two World Series rings during a twenty-three year playing career, and one World Series ring as a coach.

Baseball Sport

Baseball is a bat-and-ball game played between two opposing teams who take turns batting and fielding. The game proceeds when a player on the fielding team, called the pitcher, throws a ball which a player on the batting team tries to hit with a bat. The objectives of the offensive team are to hit the ball into the field of play, and to run the bases—having its runners advance counter-clockwise around four bases to score what are called "runs". The objective of the defensive team is to prevent batters from becoming runners, and to prevent runners' advance around the bases. A run is scored when a runner legally advances around the bases in order and touches home plate. The team that scores the most runs by the end of the game is the winner.

Manager (baseball) someone who manages a baseball team

In baseball, the field manager is the equivalent of a head coach who is responsible for overseeing and making final decisions on all aspects of on-field team strategy, lineup selection, training and instruction. Managers are typically assisted by a staff of assistant coaches whose responsibilities are specialized. Field managers are typically not involved in off-field personnel decisions or long-term club planning, responsibilities that are instead held by a team's general manager.

First baseman defensive position in baseball and softball, played on the far right side of the infield at or near first base

First base, or 1B, is the first of four stations on a baseball diamond which must be touched in succession by a baserunner to score a run for that player's team. A first baseman is the player on the team playing defense who fields the area nearest first base, and is responsible for the majority of plays made at that base. In the numbering system used to record defensive plays, the first baseman is assigned the number 3.


Along with fellow stars Pete Rose and Johnny Bench, Pérez was a key member of Cincinnati's celebrated "Big Red Machine". Following a thirteen-year initial stint with the Reds (1964–76), he played for the Montreal Expos (1977–79), Boston Red Sox (1980–82) and Philadelphia Phillies (1983) before returning to Cincinnati for his final three seasons (1984–86). He finished his career with a .279 batting average, 379 home runs, 1,652 runs batted in and 1,272 runs scored.

Pete Rose American baseball player

Peter Edward Rose Sr., also known by his nickname "Charlie Hustle", is an American former professional baseball player and manager. Rose played in Major League Baseball (MLB) from 1963 to 1986, and managed from 1984 to 1989.

Johnny Bench American baseball player

Johnny Lee Bench is an American former professional baseball catcher who played in the Major Leagues for the Cincinnati Reds from 1967 to 1983 and is a member of the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Bench is a 14-time All-Star selection and a two-time National League Most Valuable Player. He was a key member of the Big Red Machine that won six division titles, four National League pennants, and two consecutive World Series championships. ESPN has called him the greatest catcher in baseball history.

Cincinnati City in Ohio

Cincinnati is a major city in the U.S. state of Ohio, and is the government seat of Hamilton County. Settled in 1788, the city is located at the northern side of the confluence of the Licking and Ohio rivers, the latter of which marks the state line with Kentucky. The city drives the Cincinnati–Middletown–Wilmington combined statistical area, which had a population of 2,172,191 in the 2010 census making it Ohio's largest metropolitan area. With a population of 296,943, Cincinnati is the third-largest city in Ohio and 65th in the United States. Its metropolitan area is the fastest growing economic power in the Midwestern United States based on increase of economic output and it is the 28th-largest metropolitan statistical area in the U.S. Cincinnati is also within a day's drive of 49.70% of the United States populace.

After retiring, Pérez went on to coach and later manage the Reds and the Florida Marlins. From 1993 through the 2017 season, he was Special Assistant to the General Manager with the Marlins. [3]

Miami Marlins Baseball team and Major League Baseball franchise in Miami, Florida, United States

The Miami Marlins are an American professional baseball team based in Miami, Florida. They compete in Major League Baseball (MLB) as a member club of the National League (NL) East division. Their home park is Marlins Park. Though one of only two MLB franchises to have never won a division title, the Marlins have won two World Series championships as a wild card team.

He was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2000.

Early life

Pérez was born in Ciego de Ávila, Cuba in 1942, the son of José Manuel and Teodora (Rígal) Pérez. Tony and his parents and siblings all lived in a two-bedroom row house owned by the sugar mill where Tony's father, and eventually Tony, worked. Tony later played shortstop for the Mill's baseball team, Central Violeta. [4]

He was signed to a pro contract in 1960 at age 17 by Cincinnati Reds scout Tony Pacheco while playing on the Camagüey sugar factory team. He was assigned to the instructional team of the Reds' AAA affiliate Havana Sugar Kings. His "bonus" for signing with the Reds was the $2.50 cost of a visa and a plane ticket to Miami, Florida. [5]

Cincinnati Reds Baseball team and Major League Baseball franchise in Cincinnati, Ohio, United States

The Cincinnati Reds are an American professional baseball team based in Cincinnati, Ohio. The Reds compete in Major League Baseball (MLB) as a member club of the National League (NL) Central division. They were a charter member of the American Association in 1882 and joined the NL in 1890.

Tony Pacheco Cuban baseball player

Antonio Aristides Pacheco was a Cuban-born coach and scout in Major League Baseball. A longtime minor league infielder and manager, Pacheco coached in MLB for six seasons for the Cleveland Indians and Houston Astros.

The Havana Sugar Kings were a Cuban-based minor league baseball team that played from 1946 to 1960. From 1954 until 1960, they belonged in the Class AAA International League, affiliated with Major League Baseball's Cincinnati Reds. Their home stadium was El Gran Estadio del Cerro in Havana.


Early days

Pérez arrived in Florida in the spring of 1960 and participated in the Reds' spring training in Tampa. He played his first minor league game for the Reds' Class D affiliate in Geneva, New York at age 17 on May 1, 1960 in the season-opener for the New York–Pennsylvania League team. Starting at second base, his first professional hit was a triple as he went 1-5 in a 6-5, 13-inning loss to the Auburn Yankees. He went hitless in the next game (the Redlegs' home opener) in a 17–16 Redlegs win, and in the next game he got the team's only hit (a single) in a 5–0 loss. On June 25 he was placed on the disabled list. That same day, he was replaced on the active roster by just-signed 19-year-old Pete Rose, who was inserted into the starting lineup at second base. Upon Pérez's return, Rose remained at second base and Pérez played third base. Another of his teammates was Martín Dihigo Jr., son of Baseball Hall of Fame member and Negro leagues great and Cuban native Martín Dihigo. [6] Pérez hit .279 with 6 home runs in 104 games. [7]

In 1961 he again played for Geneva and set several team batting records, batting .348 with 27 home runs in 121 games. In 1962 he was promoted to the Class B Rocky Mount Leafs in the Carolina League. He reported two weeks late, as he had trouble getting out of his homeland of Cuba. In 100 games, he hit .292 with 18 home runs and 74 RBI, making the all-star team as a third baseman, but his season was cut short after those 100 games due to a broken ankle. [8] In 1963 he was promoted to the Macon Peaches of the Class AA South Atlantic League, where in 69 games as a third baseman he hit .309 with 11 home runs and 48 RBIs before being promoted that same year to the Class AAA San Diego Padres of the Pacific Coast League. For San Diego that year, in 8 games he hit .379 with 1 home run and 5 RBI. [7]

Playing for the Padres in 1964, Pérez, now playing first base, was named Most Valuable Player in the Pacific Coast League. Pérez hit .309 with 34 home runs and 107 RBI. [9] He was called up to the Reds and played his first two games in a doubleheader on July 26, 1964 at Cincinnati's Crosley Field. In his debut he started at first base, and in his first at-bat he drew a walk against left-handed pitcher Joe Gibbon. He went 0–2 against Gibbon and Don Schwall in a 7–2 Reds win, [10] then went 0–4 against pitcher Bob Veale in a 5–1 Pirates win. [11]

The following day he started at first base and batted fifth against the Braves at Milwaukee County Stadium. In an 11–2 Reds win, he got his first hit, a second-inning double off Denny Lemaster, and then scored his first run on a Johnny Edwards double. In the seventh inning he got his first RBI, a single off Lemaster to score Frank Robinson. [12]

From 1964 through 1966, he platooned at first base, primarily with Deron Johnson and Gordy Coleman. His first career home run, a grand slam, came in the Reds' second game of 1965, at home in Crosley Field against Milwaukee — and again against Denny Lemaster. The grand slam came with 2 outs and scored Vada Pinson, Frank Robinson, and Deron Johnson. [13]

Pérez became the Reds' starter at third base in 1967 and was selected to his first All-Star team in 1967. The game, played on July 11, 1967, at Anaheim Stadium, went into 15 innings, the longest All-Star Game in history (since equaled by the 2008 game). [14] Pérez's home run off future fellow Hall of Famer Catfish Hunter propelled the National League to a 2-1 victory. He was subsequently voted the Most Valuable Player of the 1967 All-Star Game. [15]

In 1970, Pérez hit the first home run in Pittsburgh's Three Rivers Stadium. [16] The 1970 campaign was his finest year, statistically: in addition to his 129 RBIs, Pérez hit .317, slugged 40 home runs and scored 107 runs. He came in third in the Most Valuable Player voting behind Billy Williams and Reds' teammate and winner Johnny Bench. [17]

Pérez also played winter ball for 10 seasons between 1964–65 and 1982-83 in the Puerto Rico Baseball League for the Santurce Crabbers (Cangrejeros de Santurce). He won the batting title and was named league MVP in 1966-67. [18] [19]

Big Red Machine

After platooning and playing first base in the early part of his career (1964–66) with the Cincinnati Reds, he became a perennial all-star starting at third base from 1967 to 1971. From 1972 onward he starred at first base. Pérez was one of the premier RBI men of his generation, driving in 100 or more runs seven times in his 23-year-long career. In an eleven-year stretch from 1967 to 1977, Pérez drove in 90 or more runs each year, with a high of 129 RBIs in 1970. During the decade of the 1970s, Pérez was second among all major-leaguers in RBI, with 954, behind only his teammate Johnny Bench.

Beginning in 1970, the Reds went to the World Series four times in seven years, winning back-to-back world championships in 1975 and 1976, with Pérez starting at first base. Following the Reds sweep of the Phillies in the 1976 League Championship Series and New York Yankees in the 1976 World Series (the only time a team has ever swept the postseason since the League Championship Series was introduced in 1969), Pérez was traded to the Montreal Expos with Will McEnaney for Woodie Fryman and Dale Murray. [20] After his trade, the "Big Red Machine"—considered one of baseball's all-time greatest teams—sputtered and never again got into the Series, reaching the playoffs but one more time in 1979. Sparky Anderson, the Reds manager during the championships of the 1970s, has stated in many interviews since that Pérez was the leader, and heart and soul of those teams.

After three seasons in Montreal (in which he hit 46 home runs with 242 RBIs and a .281 batting average), for the 1980 season, Pérez signed as a free agent with the Boston Red Sox. In his first season with the Red Sox, he finished in the top 10 in the American League in home runs (25), RBIs (105) and intentional walks (11), and won the Lou Gehrig Memorial Award. [20]

Cincinnati reunion

For the 1983 season, Pérez reunited with "Big Red Machine" teammates Pete Rose and Joe Morgan on the Philadelphia Phillies. Still a feared hitter based on his reputation, Pérez was a reserve player on the 1983 National League Champion Phillies, and batted .242 in his five World Series appearances. Following the season, he returned to the Cincinnati Reds as a free agent, where he remained until his retirement following the 1986 season. [20]

In 1984, at age 42, he became the oldest player to hit a walk-off pinch-hit home run (off the Pirates' Don Robinson). On May 13, 1985, batting against Philadelphia Phillies' reliever Dave Rucker, he became the oldest player (44) to hit a grand slam, breaking a 70-year-old record held by Honus Wagner. [21] [22] The new record stood until Julio Franco broke it at age 46 in 2004. Pérez was named National League Player of the Week during the final week of his career at age 44, when he went 8-for-19 with a home run, three doubles, and 6 runs batted in. [20]

His final career hit and RBI came on October 4, 1986 at Riverfront Stadium when he hit a solo home run off San Diego Padres pitcher Ed Whitson in a 10–7 Reds win. [23] The following day was the Reds' last game of the year and the final game of his career. In his final at-bat, he flied out against Andy Hawkins in a 2–1 Padres' win. [24]


Tony Pérez's number 24 was retired by the Cincinnati Reds in 2000.
Perez managing the Cincinnati Reds during Spring Training in 1993 in Bradenton, Florida Tony-perez manager cincinnati bradenton 03-1993.jpg
Perez managing the Cincinnati Reds during Spring Training in 1993 in Bradenton, Florida

Pérez was a seven-time All-Star who was voted the Most Valuable Player of the 1967 All-Star Game. He was inducted into the Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame in 1998. On May 27, 2000, in an on-field pre-game ceremony at Cinergy Field (formerly Riverfront Stadium) with family and former teammates and managers, the Reds retired his number, 24. [1]

In 2000, Pérez was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York, garnering 385 votes on 499 ballots for a total of 77.15%, just over the three-quarters minimum required for induction. He was inducted in July 2000 along with Sparky Anderson, Carlton Fisk, Bid McPhee and Turkey Stearnes. In his induction speech, he said, "I doubt that a king at his coronation feels better than me today." [25] Each year since his induction, he has attended the weekend ceremonies, including riding in the annual parade and playing in the annual golf outing and old-timers' baseball game. [26]

Pérez was inducted into the Hispanic Heritage Baseball Museum Hall of Fame in 2001 at a pre-game ceremony held at the San Francisco Giants' Pacific Bell Park. [27] That same year he threw out the ceremonial first pitch at the 2001 All-Star Game at the Seattle Mariners' Safeco Field; he had played at the Mariners' previous home, the Kingdome, during the 1979 All-Star Game. Pérez in 1998 was inducted into the Caribbean Baseball Hall of Fame, which honors those that have made significant achievements in the Caribbean Series. He was one of 24 inaugural inductees into the Latino Baseball Hall of Fame in 2010. [28] He was inducted in 2010 to the Cuban Sports Hall of Fame. [29]

In 2011, with Pérez and his sons in attendance at opening ceremonies of the Museo del Deporte de Puerto Rico in Guaynabo, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, his adopted homeland, presented him with a surprise honor. He was proclaimed an official "native son" of Puerto Rico "for his dedication to the commonwealth as a family and community member, and for his impressive baseball accolades while representing the island." Also present were fellow Hall-of-Famers Orlando Cepeda and Roberto Alomar plus Vera Clemente, widow of Roberto Clemente. [30]

On August 10, 2014 at the annual Reds Hall of Fame Induction Gala, former Reds teammates Johnny Bench and Joe Morgan along with Pérez himself announced that the Reds would erect a statue of Pérez outside Great American Ball Park. [31]

On the weekend of August 21–22, 2015, the Cincinnati Reds held Tony Pérez Weekend during a series with the Arizona Diamondbacks. At least a dozen players of the Big Red Machine will be part of a post-game ceremony Friday night. On Saturday, a bronze statue of Pérez will be unveiled near the entrance to Great American Ball Park. Fans attending the game will receive replica statues, and there will be a pre-game ceremony honoring Pérez, followed by him throwing the ceremonial first pitch. [32]

Managerial record

TeamFromToRegular season recordPost–season record
WLWin %WLWin %
Cincinnati Reds 199319932024.455
Florida Marlins 200120015460.474
Reference: [33]

Personal life

While playing winter ball in Puerto Rico in 1964, Pérez met Juana ("Pituka") de la Cantera, daughter of Pablo de la Cantera and Edilia Cortina. [34] Also of Cuban descent, she grew up in Puerto Rico. Four months after meeting the couple was married in early 1965. [35] They both became American citizens on October 18, 1971, in Cincinnati, [36] and have two sons, both born there — Victor Pérez (May 11, 1966) and Eduardo Pérez (September 11, 1969).

Victor played one year (1990) in the Reds' minor league system. [37] He attended and graduated from Xavier University in Cincinnati with a Bachelor of Applied Science degree in Finance and Computer Science. He later moved to New York City, where he worked in real estate and in telecommunications. He also attended acting school there and became a professional actor, first in New York City, and then for several years in London. [35] [38]

Eduardo was an All-American third baseman at Florida State University and played in the College World Series. He was drafted in the first round (17th overall pick) by the California Angels. He played Major League Baseball for 13 seasons. After retiring as a player, he served as an ESPN commentator for five years. In 2009, he managed Leones de Ponce to the Puerto Rican League championship, and in 2011 and 2012 he was hitting coach for the Miami Marlins. He was bench coach of the Houston Astros for the 2013 season, and will be an Astros' base coach in 2014. He is married to Mirba (Rivera) and they have two daughters, Andreanna and Juliana. [39]

In November 1972, Pérez was granted a 20-day visa to return to Cuba for the first time since a 1963 trip; however, the visa did not permit his wife and children to go, according to "Latino Baseball Legends: An Encyclopedia" by Lew Freedman. He took 17 suitcases of gifts, clothes, and medical supplies and reunited with his family in Central Violeta, Cuba—a 400-mile train ride from Havana. [5]

Tony's father, Jose Manuel — with whom Tony worked alongside as a teenager at the Camagüey sugar factory, hauling and stamping the company's name on the bags — died in 1979 at age 84 (some sources list his year of death as 1977). Tony has stated that, during his playing career, his family in Cuba would listen to the Voice of America, which would give daily updates on Cuban players playing in the majors. [5] [35] [40]

Tony's mother, Teodora ("Tita"), was 88 when Tony called her with the news in 2000 that he had been elected to the Hall of Fame. [25] Tony was able to make a return visit to Cuba in 2002, only this time with his sons. Teodora died in 2008. Tony's oldest sister died in 1997. In 2000, for a luncheon honoring Tony, the Marlins arranged to surprise him by helping his two living sisters, Argelia and Gloria, secure visas and come to Miami from their homes in Central Violeta, Camagüey, Cuba. [41] [42] [43] [44]

Pérez has cited Cuban-born Minnie Miñoso as his boyhood idol. [45] Pérez has been an advocate for many years in articles, speeches, and discussions to get Minoso elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame. [46]

A 326-page biography, Tony Pérez: From Cuba to Cooperstown, written by John Erardi, was published on April 2, 2018. [47]

See also

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