Friday, March 20, 2009

#80 -- Tony Perez

Tony Perez

There are many of the Topps sets where the player's position is noted on the front. Off the top of my head, it's hard to think of one where it isn't mentioned. The 1972 set doesn't have the player's position on the front, but they do have it on the back. I say that because when I mention "Tony Perez" the position most usually associated with him is first base. At this point, he'd been a regular with the Reds for 7 years, so he was fairly well established.

From 1967-1971, Tony played third base for the Reds. Looking at the stats, he was roughly league average, which surprises me some. I don't remember him being a great fielder, but I suppose this goes to show he was a good athlete. The Reds were playing Lee May at first, and there sure wasn't anywhere else he was going to play. When the Reds made the blockbuster deal with the Astros (May, Tommy Helms and Jimmy Stewart for Joe Morgan, Cesar Geronimo, Denis Menke and Jack Billingham -- who got the best of that?) in addition to picking up a lot of talent, the Reds cleared a spot to move Perez to first.

Tony had great RBI numbers. Of course, he had Pete Rose, Joe Morgan and either Bobby Tolan or Ken Griffey hitting in front of him. I'm convinced Enzo Hernandez could have hit 4th or 5th for the Reds and driven in 80 runs. Tony wasn't a loud guy who called attention to himself. He just went along and did his thing without a lot of fanfare.

The Big Red Machine suffered a blow when the Reds traded Perez to the Expos to open up playing time for Dan Driessen. That was in 1977. The next time the Reds went to the World Series was 1990. Driessen was good, but he wasn't Tony Perez good. It's true that Perez was a 10 year vet at the time and he was going to start winding down, but for the next couple of years his numbers were still better. Woodie Fryman and Dale Murray didn't really do a whole lot for the Reds, either.

I always liked Perez as a player, but I don't think he'd make my Hall of Fame. He had good lifetime numbers, especially RBI, but he just doesn't hit me in the guy as being a Hall of Famer. He was one of those guys, like Ron Santo, Dave Parker and Andre Dawson who was consistently far above average, but not dominating. Oops. I mentioned that I don't think Ron Santo should be in the Hall. I should know better than that with all the Chicago readers I have. Please forgive me guys!

Oh, and Mario had a bad encounter with Tony.


  1. I agree that Perez was a very good player for a long stretch, but not a Hall of Famer in my eyes.

  2. I date the official end of my childhood to two things: puberty and the breakup of my beloved Big Red Machine.

    In retrospect I now understand why they let Rose go, as he was out of control most of his career. But Perez? Very good guy who was a very consistent player and deserved far better.

  3. When he was playing for the Red Sox. I remember seeing him smoking a cigarette in the dugout, and I was like WTF. Until I learned that a lot of those guys smoked.