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Tony Pérez

A photo of Tony Pérez.

Atanasio Pérez Rigal (born May 14, 1942 in Ciego de Ávila, Cuba), more commonly known as Tony Pérez, is a former Major League Baseball player. He was also known by the nickname "Big Dog," "Big Doggie," and "Doggie."

Until he was traded in December, 1976, Pérez was a key member of Cincinnati's "Big Red Machine". Apart from his years with the Reds (1964-76, 1984-86), he also played for the Montreal Expos (1977-79), Boston Red Sox (1980-82) and Philadelphia Phillies (1983). He finished his career with a .279 batting average, 379 home runs, 1652 runs batted in and 1272 runs scored. After retiring, Pérez went on to manage the Reds and Florida Marlins. He currently holds the title of Special Assistant to the General Manager with the Marlins.

Early career[]

Tony Pérez was named as the Most Valuable Player in the Pacific Coast League in 1964 when he played for the San Diego Padres (then a minor league club). Perez hit .309 with 34 home runs and 107 RBI for the Padres. His performance earned him a promotion to the Reds at the end of the 1964 season.[1]

Pérez was selected to his first All-Star team in 1967. The game, played on July 11, 1967, at Anaheim Stadium, went into 15 innings and was then the longest All-Star Game in history. (The 2008 All Star Game also went to 15 innings, and is the longest All-Star Game in terms of elapsed time, at four hours 50 minutes.) It was Pérez's home run off future fellow Hall of Famer Catfish Hunter that propelled the National League to victory. He was subsequently voted the Most Valuable Player of the 1967 All-Star Game.

In 1970, Pérez hit the first home run in Pittsburgh's Three Rivers Stadium. 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 winner Johnny Bench[2], his Cincinnati Reds teammate who had one of the best offensive seasons in the history of catchers that year (.293/45/148), in addition to winning a Gold Glove.

Big Red Machine[]

After playing third base in the early part of his career with the Cincinnati Reds, from 1972 onward he starred at first base. Pèrez 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 Red's 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. 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.

Boston Red Sox[]

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 ten in the American League in intentional walks (11), home runs (25) and RBIs (105), and won the Lou Gehrig Memorial Award. Conversely, he also ranked among the top ten in strikeouts and led all American League batters by grounding into 25 double plays, with the latter statistic illustrating his declining abilities to drive in runs.

Big Red Machine 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.


Pérez was a seven time All-Star who was voted the Most Valuable Player of the 1967 All-Star Game. In a 1976 article in Esquire magazine, sportswriter Harry Stein published an "All Time All-Star Argument Starter," consisting of five ethnic baseball teams. Pérez, a Cuban, was the third baseman on Stein's Latin team. (Tony Pérez was inducted into the Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame in 1998.)

In 2000, Pérez was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame. He had the honor of being elected by the Baseball Writers, garnering 385 votes on 499 ballots for a total of 77.15%, just over the three-quarters minimum required for induction. Pérez also has the distinction of being the first Montreal Expos player ever elected into the Hall of Fame. Tony Perez was also inducted into the Hispanic Heritage Baseball Museum Hall of Fame.[3]

Preceded by:
Brooks Robinson
Major League Baseball All-Star Game
Most Valuable Player

Succeeded by:
Willie Mays
Preceded by:
Dave Kingman
National League Player of the Month
August, 1975
Succeeded by:
Andre Thornton
Preceded by:
Phil Niekro
Lou Gehrig Memorial Award
Succeeded by:
Tommy John
Preceded by:
Lou Piniella
Cincinnati Reds Manager
Succeeded by:
Davey Johnson
Preceded by:
John Boles
Florida Marlins Manager
Succeeded by:
Jeff Torborg

See also[]


  1. Tony Perez, Topps Baseball Cards, 1968, card number 130.
  2. Baseball Awards Voting for 1970. Retrieved on 2008-09-08.
  3. Hispanic Heritage Baseball Museum. Retrieved on 2008-07-21.

External links[]