Saturday, February 9, 2013

Tony Perez (#72)

Tony Perez was the Topps All-Rookie 3rd baseman in 1965, just another in a long line of Cincinnati Reds:

1963 - Pete Rose 2B, Tommy Harper OF
1964 - Bill McCool P
1965 - Tony Perez 1B
1966 - Tommy Helms 3B
1967 - Lee May 1B
1968 - Johnny Bench C
(When Lee May came along 2 years later, Perez simply moved over to 3rd base.)

Perez was signed by the Reds in 1960, and played 5 seasons (1960-64) in the minors. He was a 3rd baseman until his final minor-league season, when he divided his time between 1st and 3rd.

Tony made his major-league debut in 1964, playing in 11 games from late-July to late-August, and one final game on Sept. 30th. He made the Reds for good on opening day 1965, and platooned at 1st base with veteran Gordy Coleman. Perez started 66 games, mostly against left-handers.

Tony's playing time decreased slightly in 1966. He played in 99 games, but only 62 starts at 1st base. (Coleman started 63 games, while rookie call-up Lee May started most of the games for the last 3 weeks of the season.)

1967 was the beginning of Perez' prime-time. He played 150+ games in 7 of the next 8 seasons, and became an RBI machine. In the '67 All-Star game, he hit the game-winning home run in the 15th inning.

From 1967-71, he was the regular 3rd baseman, before moving back to 1st base in 1972 after Lee May's trade to Houston. Tony was an all-star for the Reds 7 times between 1967 and 1976, and played in the post-season in '70, '72, '73, '75, and '76, including a 10-for-28 showing against Oakland in the 1972 World Series.

After the 1976 season, he was traded to the Expos. His all-star days were over, but he was the team's regular 1st baseman for 3 seasons.

Free agency landed him in Boston after the 1979 season, where he was the regular 1st-sacker for a year, then slipped into a part-time role in 1981-82.

In 1983, he joined ex-Reds' teammates Pete Rose and Joe Morgan in Philadelphia, as the "Wheeze Kids" made a run to the World Series.

After the season, he was sold to the Reds, and spent his final 3 seasons as the backup 1st baseman behind Dan Driessen, then Pete Rose.

After his playing career, Tony coached for the Reds, then managed the team during the first 2 months of 1993. He was also the interim manager for the Florida Marlins for the last 144 games in 2001.

Perez was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2000.

Also check out his 1967 card.

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