Tuesday, September 13, 2011

#85 Tony Perez

Card thoughts: One my favorite cards in the set. It's not often you see a player card where another player is as prominent. In this case, it is up and coming star #28 Eric Davis whose own card in this set is not as interesting. This photographer must have dug the symbolism of Perez, Reds legend, near the end of 23-year career passing the torch to the next generation.

The player: Perez was one of the greatest players in the 70s, on one of the greatest teams of the 70s: The Cincinnati Reds. From 1967-1977, Perez drove in over 90 runs every year, and over 100 runs 6 times--although curiously for a man known as one of the best RBI guys of his era, he never led the league. He was a 7-time all star as well. Starting out as a third baseman, Perez' poor fielding moved him to first in 1972. He was a fairly poor fielder at first as well, but he was in the lineup for his bat, not his glove. His best season on the Big Red Machine came in 1970 when he hit a career high with 40 home runs, runs batted in with 129, runs with 107, and batting average with a .317 mark. When the Reds went to World Series (and they went often in Perez' time with the team: 1970, 1972, 1975, and 1976), he was productive, driving in 11 runs in 24 games.

Despite his continued success with the Reds, he was traded after the 1976 season to the Expos for mediocre starter Woody Fryman and durable reliever Dale Murray. This was the start of the break-up of the Big Red Machine. His first year in Montreal was as productive as the old days, but the last two years Perez began to show his age as he neared his late 30s. He experienced a renaissance year in 1980 with the Red Sox when he drove in over 100 for the last time. But he would never again be a regular player for the rest of his career. Reuniting with former Reds teammates Joe Morgan and Pete Rose, he came off the bench for the Phillies in 1983 World Series but only hit .200. Rose brought him back to the Reds when he became manager in 1984, and he had some good years, even managing to hit .325 as pinch hitter during year represented by this card. He retired in 1986, 28th all-time in runs batted in.

Perez was fired 44 games into his managerial career by the Reds. He took the Marlins over for their last 114 games of the 2001 season and finished 4th. He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 2000, despite having comparable numbers to Harold Baines, Dave Parker, and Rusty Stab, none of whom are considered hall-of-famers. However, Andre Dawson, Al Kaline, Jim Rice, and Billy Williams, who are also comparable, are in. No doubt, Perez' "intangibles" (he was a franchise type player on a deservedly famous, successful team) helped him get in.

Rear guard: Always fascinated as a kid by the players who had played so long, you could barely read their stats. All those years, and no league leaders.

No comments: