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Atanasio Pérez Rigal, more commonly known as Tony Pérez (born May 14, 1942 in Ciego de Ávila, Cuba), is a former player in Major League Baseball. He was also known by the nicknames "Big Dog" and "Doggie".
After playing third base in the early part of his career with the Cincinnati Reds, from 1972 onward he starred at first base. In the early part of the 1970s he was a key member of Cincinnati's "Big Red Machine". Apart from his years with the Reds (1964–76, '84-86), he also played for the Montreal Expos (1977–79), Boston Red Sox (1980–82) and Philadelphia Phillies (1983). After retiring, Pérez went on the manage with the Reds and Florida Marlins. He currently holds the title of Special Assistant to the General Manager with the Marlins.
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.
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.
The 1970 campaign was his finest year, statisically: 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 Willie McCovey and winner Johnny Bench, 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.
Beginning with 1970, the Reds went to the World Series four times in seven years with Pérez as a starting player. He departed after the 1976 season (which was capped by the team's sweep of the Yankees in the World Series) for Montreal, and the Big Red Machine—considered one of baseball's all-time great teams—sputtered and never again got into the Series, reaching the playoffs but one more time in 1979. (Tany Pérez was inducted into the Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame in 1998.) At the age of 38 in 1980, he had a very good first season with the Red Sox in which he finished in the top 10 in the American League in intentional walks (11), home runs (25) and RBIs (105), and won the Lou Gehrig Memorial Award. Unfortunately, in the same season he also ranked among the top 10 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. Still a feared hitter based on his reputation, Pérez also was a reserve player on the 1983 National League Champion Phillies, and batted .242 in his five World Series appearances.
Tany Pérez was a seven time All-Star who was voted the Most Valuable Player of the 1967 All-Star Game. The game, played on July 11, 1967, at Anaheim Stadium, went into 15 innings and ranks as the longest All-Star Game in history. It was Pérez's home run off future fellow Hall of Famer Catfish Hunter that propelled the National League to victory.
He finished his career with a .279 batting average, 379 home runs, 1652 RBI and 1272 runs scored.
In an article in 1976 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.
Most people believe that Tony Perez's best season was 1970, when he slugged 40 home runs, hit for a .317 average and knocked in 129 runs.
- All-Star Games: 1967-70, 1974–76
- World Series Champion: 1975-76
- Signed as an amateur free agent by Cincinnati Reds (March 12, 1960).
- Traded by Cincinnati Reds with Will McEnaney to Montreal Expos in exchange for Woodie Fryman and Dale Murray (December 16, 1976).
- Granted free agency (November 1, 1979).
- Signed by Boston Red Sox (November 16, 1979).
- Released by Boston Red Sox (November 1, 1982).
- Signed by Philadelphia Phillies (January 31, 1983).
- Sold by Philadelphia Phillies to Cincinnati Reds (December 6, 1983).
- Granted free agency (November 8, 1984).
- Signed by Cincinnati Reds (April 10, 1985).
- Granted free agency (November 12, 1985).
- Signed by Cincinnati Reds (January 20, 1986).