Today’s card of the day is card #15 of Tony Perez, shown here with the Montreal Expos. Tony looks like he is on the verge of tears in this picture. Perhaps this is because after 16 years, 7 All Star Appearances and 4 National League Pennants with the Cincinnati Reds, the Reds traded him to the Montreal Expos. The Reds picked up an iffy starter (Woodie Fryman) and a decent middle reliever (Dale Murray), but they ended an era of greatness by shipping Perez away, especially to the Montreal Expos. The Spos fielded a decent team in ’77, Tony Perez played first and hit 19 homers and another HOFer, Gary Carter was the catcher and team leader in homers with 31. They also had Ellis Valentine (25 HR), Andre Dawson (19 HR), Larry Parrish (11 HR) and Del Unser (12 HR). It wasn’t a bad team, they finished below .500 and in 5th place in the NL, but it wasn’t because of a lack of offense. In 1977, his first year in Montreal, he batted .283, hit 19 homers and also drove in 91 runs. It was the 11th straight season that Perez drove in 90 or more runs, his best year coming in 1970 when he brought 129 runners home. This is a pretty awful picture for such a great player… I don’t like seeing anyone without a hat on a baseball card, but seeing Perez at 35 years of age, wearing a uniform other than the Reds makes me want to cry to. Fortunately for Tony his sentence in Montreal wasn’t too long. In 1980 he would be a free agent and sign on with the Boston Red Sox and have career resurgence at age 38 playing on a team with 4 future Hall of Fame sluggers and leading that team in homeruns, RBI and hits. Perez would continue on and play for the Phillies, and lead them to an NL pennant in '83, and then returned to the Reds again before retiring after the 1986 season at age 44 on the team that he began his career with. His career lasted a remarkable 23 seasons and over that career he belted 379 homeruns (60th All Time) and drove in 1,652 runs (27th All Time). He never led the league in any one offensive category, he was never an MVP award winner (except for the ’67 ALL STAR game), but he was a fantastic fielding first baseman, a team leader, a winner and one of the classiest people to play the game. He was also one of the most feared hitters of the 70s. He averaged 23 homeruns and 90 runs batted in for the decade. He was also intentionally walked 150 times (including twice his final season), which is good for 42nd in baseball history. This is particularly impressive because Perez always played on strong offensive ball clubs with a lot of depth in the lineup. The “Big Doggy” hit a grand slam in 1985 (at age 43) becoming the oldest player to accomplish that feat, the 1986 Topps card #205 documented that. His 3 years in Montreal were just a part of his storied career. It’s over now Tony, you’re in the Hall of Fame (Class of 2000) and you don’t have to play for the Expos again, wipe away your tears… Now, it is time for the…
The Nitty Gritty
Name/Number: Tony Perez, number 24.
Position: First base
Age-Now and Then: 67, he was 35.
Team’s 1977 Record: 75-87, 5th in NL West
Topps Rookie Card: 1965 Topps, card #581, with Kevin Collins and Dave Ricketts.
Number of Topps Base Cards: 23, last card was 1986 Topps #85 (with Eric Davis) - I always considered this a changing of the guard card.
Playball! Foul out.
1977 Stats Line: .283/19/91
Awards in 1977: Neither the Expos nor the Reds made the Playoffs in ’77.
Distinguishing Feature: Sad face.
Similar Modern Player: Carlos Pena.
What I said about this card then: Why so sad Tony?
What I think about this card now: Seriously, you are one of the best players in baseball history, quit your crying and put on a hat!
Back of the card memorable moment: There’s no room with his stats… He had 296 career homers at the start of the ’78 season.
Back of the card “fun fact”: Again, no room. He was born on 5-14-42 in Camaguey, Cuba.
The condition: Near mint.
Grooviness factor: It’s difficult to simultaneously cry and be groovy, but the baby-blue uniform with the red, white and blue M is pretty groovy…
Wow! Factor: Sparky Anderson called Perez the “heart and soul of the Big Red Machine”; I can’t believe that they would trade him. Is nothing sacred?
What’s weird about this card: Well first off there is no crying in baseball; second, seeing Perez in an Expos uniform is pure weird.
Career Accolades: Won two World Series with the Reds. 7-time All Star. Hall of Fame in 2000.
Best Season: In 1970 Perez batted .317 with 40 homers and 129 RBI, scoring 107 runs, posting a .589 slugging % and winning the NL Pennant.
Nitty Gritty Fun Facts: Tony Perez won the Pacific Coast League MVP in 1964 while playing for the San Diego Padres. He batted .309 with 34 homers and 107 RBIs and earned a promotion to the Reds.
Where are they now?: Perez is currently a special assistant to the general manager of the Florida Marlins.
Well, after a long hiatus, the Nitty Gritty Train is moving right along again. Tony Perez is one of my all time favorite players, but this is one ugly card. On deck is card #16 of Yankees outfielder Roy White. 31 years LATER!