Tony Perez Biography, Life, Interesting Facts
Tony "Big Dog" Pérez is a Cuban-American baseball player who became famous for being part of the Cincinnati Reds' Big Red Machine lineup. He spent 23 years of his professional career at the Cincinnati's team.
A seven-time All-Star, Pérez won the World Championship series of 1975 and 1976 by playing on the Cincinnati Reds' team. He also became a member of the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2000 and is also the second Cuban to receive this award. He is a fellow team member of Pete Rose and Johnny Bench.
Pérez is married to Juana "Pituka" de la Cantera whom he met in 1964. They married in 1965, four months after their meeting. Both of them moved to the US and became American citizens in 1971. Their union brought forth two sons: Victor and Eduardo.
The Boy From The Sugar Mills
Born as Atanacio Pérez Rigal on May 14, 1942, at Ciego de Avila in Cuba, he grew up in a two-bedroom row house with his whole family.
His parents were José Manuel and Teodora Pérez. His father worked at a sugar mill where the young Pérez also found work eventually. Growing up, he Pérez played baseball there as a shortstop for the team called Central Violeta. He was ultimately scouted from playing for the team and at the age of 17, he signed his official contract with the Cincinnati Reds.
At the time, Tony Pacheco scouted the young Pérez who signed the contract in 1960. As an additional benefit to his contract signing, Pérez also got a hold of a visa costing $2.50 at the time, as well as plane tickets bound for Miami, Florida.
The Big Dog's Entry To The Baseball World
Upon signing his contract-signing with the Reds, Pérez flew to immediately to Florida to participate at Tampa for the team's training schedule. He made his debut appearance at a minor league for the team's colleagues in Geneva, New York.
In the early days of his career, he played mostly as a first baseman, alternating between the other bases during 1964 to 1967. During his prime, Pérez has one of the highest run batted in (RBI) for the team wherein he has contributed for 100 or more runs in his professional baseball career. He, along with fellow teammate Johnny Bench, was at the top out of all the major-leaguers at the time with Pérez following bench at the ranking.
At the start of 1970, Pérez and his team participated in the World Series for four times with Pérez playing as the first baseman which led to the team's victory for two consecutive years in 1975 and 1976.
After winning the World Series in 1976, Pérez switched to playing for different teams starting in 1977. He was traded off and played for the Montreal Expos for two years until 1979. He then changed to the Boston Red Sox for the season of 1980 to 1982 and moved on to Philadelphia Phillies for the 1983 season. While playing at-bat for the Phillies, he played with fellow Big Red Machine members Joe Morgan and Pete Rose.
For his last years as a professional baseball player, he went back to the Cincinnati Reds for the 1984 to 1986 season. His last years at the Reds proved to be memorable since he held a couple of records by playing for them. During the season of 1984, he managed to hit a walk-off pinch-hit home run against the Pittsburgh Pirates at the age of 42, making him the oldest player to achieve this stint. The following season in a game held in May, he managed to hit a grand slam against the Philadelphia Phillies at the age of 44. His last match was held on October 5, 1986, against the San Diego Padres where the latter won the game.
Upon his retirement, he worked as the coach of the Reds and handled the team of the Florida Marlins in 1993.
For his tedious efforts, he was inducted in 1988 to the Cincinnati Reds' Hall of Fame and also to the Hall of Fame of the Hispanic Heritage Baseball Museum in 2001.