This Week in 1960s Baseball
(March 12, 1960) Today the Cincinnati Reds signed a future Hall of Famer and the franchise’s second most-prolific run producer, infielder Tony Perez.
A Cuban native, Perez signed with the Reds as an 18-year-old free agent and spent five years in the Reds’ minor league organization. He had an outstanding 1964 season with the Reds’ AAA club, the (then minor league) San Diego Padres, hitting .309 with 34 home runs and 107 RBIs, and earning Perez a spot on Cincinnati’s major league roster.
His first two seasons with Cincinnati were less than stellar. But from then on, Perez became one of the league’s most dangerous and consistent sluggers, and a vital cog in the Big Red Machine of the 1970s. From 1967 to 1976, Perez averaged 26 home runs and 103 RBIs per season.
The best season of his career statistically was 1970, when Perez hit .317 with 40 home runs and 129 RBIs. He finished third in the Most Valuable Player balloting that year (with teammate Johnny Bench taking the MVP honors).
The first 13 years and the last three of his 23-season major league career were with the Cincinnati Reds. For his career, Perez finished with 379 homes runs and 1,652 RBIs. He was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2000.