Atanasio “Tony” Pérez: A .400 Caribbean Series Career Batting Average (Part II)

Great swing by Tany Pérez in the 1970-71 season.

In the States, he is Tony Pérez; in the Caribbean, Tany Pérez. He was inducted in the Puerto Rico Professional Baseball Hall of Fame in 1996; Caribbean Series Hall of Fame in 1998; and, Cooperstown, in 2000. Part I ended with Tony’s 20 doubles for the 1967-68 Santurce Crabbers, tied with San Juan’s Johnny Bench, for the league lead. Part II focuses on:

  • Tony’s 1969-70 and 1970-71 seasons for Santurce and first two Caribbean Series
  • 1970 All-Star Game and 1970 World Series
  • 1968-1970 NL All-Star seasons
  • Hall of Famers played for, Earl Weaver and Frank Robinson in Puerto Rico; Sparky Anderson (pending Dick Williams).

More information can be accessed via Phil Cola’s  SABR bio of Tony, at: https://sabr.org/bioproj/person/tony-perez/ In 1968 “Year of the Pitcher, Tony hit .282 for Cincinnati with 18 HR and 92 HR in 625 AB; improved to .294-37-129 in 1969, with 629 AB. He was a NL All-Star reserve at 3B both seasons, with one AB in the 1969 contest, a 9-3 NL win. (Steve Carlton, winning pitcher, faced Tony in 1965-66 and 1966-67, in Puerto Rico, when Ponce played Santurce; Don Drysdale won the 1968 All-Star Game, 1-0.)

1969-70 Puerto Rico Season and 1970 Caribbean Series

Tony reinforced the 1969-70 Ponce Lions, in Caracas, Venezuela, after this season for Santurce: .313 AVG, 11 HR and 35 RBI, in 60 regular season games. He cracked three HR versus Mayagüez in a six-game semi-final series, in Santurce wins, January 23-24 and 27, 1970;  homered versus Ponce in Game Four of the finals, January 31, a 2-1 win; but the Lions took the series in six. Ponce LHP Paul Doyle recalled retiring Tony in a key late-inning spot in Game Six. “The Ponce fans went wild,” said Doyle. “I pitched for the 1969 Atlanta Braves and made about the same monthly salary for Ponce [$1,700-last month of 1969-70]. Tony was a tough out with [1969] Cincinnati and [1969-70] Santurce.”

Santurce’s 1969-70 MVP was Tony. Other league teams chose these MVP’s:

  • Arecibo—OF Angel “Cookie” Mangual
  • Caguas—3B José A. Pagán
  • Mayagüez—C Héctor Valle
  • Ponce—RHP Wayne Simpson
  • San Juan—C Thurman Munson.

Ponce manager Jim Fregosi was appreciative of Tony for reinforcing the Lions in Venezuela: “It was a three-team series in Caracas; we finished second. Tony Pérez was our best hitter that week.” Ponce owner Yuyo González asked Tony and RHP Fred Beene to reinforce his Lions for the February 5-10, 1970 Caribbean Series. Beene politely declined due to a tired pitching arm but Tony said “yes.” It had been a full decade since Phase I of the Caribbean Series ended in Panamá (PAN), February 1960, with the hosts, Cuba, Puerto Rico (PR) and Venezuela (VZA) competing.

Doyle recalled security was tight at their Caracas hotel. One bodyguard had a resemblance to well-known singer Tom Jones. Tony homered in the opener versus the Licey Tigers from the Dominican Republic (DR), a 4-2 Ponce win, behind RHP Simpson. The Lions other wins were a 15-inning 3-2 win, February 6; a 5-4 victory over host Magallanes Navigators, on February 7; and, a Simpson 2-0 SHO over Licey, February 9. Magallanes (7-1) took first, with Ponce (4-4) second, and Licey (1-7) third. Sportswriters’ votes resulted in this All-Star Team:

  • C: Ray Fosse, Magallanes
  • 1B: Gonzalo Márquez, Magallanes (batting champ-.440)
  • 2B: Gustavo Gil, Magallanes
  • 3B: Tony Pérez, Ponce
  • SS: Jesús Aristimuño, Magallanes
  • LF: César Cedeño, Licey
  • CF: César Tovar, Magallanes
  • RF: Luis “Torito” Meléndez, Ponce
  • P: Aurelio Monteagudo, Magallanes
  • P: Orlando “El Guajiro” Peña, Magallanes
  • MGR: Carlos “Patato” Pascual, Magallanes

Germán J. Rivas, Venezuelan Baseball Historian/Author, noted (via Twitter) that: “Fosse was the best Import who caught in Venezuela’s Winter League.” Sadly, Fosse was injured five months later in a collision at home plate with Pete Rose, MLB All-Star Game.

Sparky Anderson, July 14, 1970 MLB All-Star Game and 1970 World Series

Part of the Big Red Machine, one of the greatest teams ever.

Tony opined, in his June 3, 2021 conversation with Raúl Ramos and Jorge Colón Delgado, on Baseball Ahora, that: our “Big Red Machine” had speed, power and defense, [but] Sparky did not want to manage 20-24 players; he knew how to handle a pitching staff…and wanted to win.” Sparky, numerous times called Tony “Mr. Clutch,” for his opportune hitting. The best blog the author read on Tony Pérez was Miguel Dupouy Gómez’s one, at:

http://beisbolinmortal.blogspot.com/2020/07/tany-perez-un-bateador-decisivo-y.html  It covers Tony’s amazing achievements and contributions, including his special friendship with Venezuelan SS David Concepción, originating in 1970, who became Tony’s “kid brother.”

Cincinnati’s Riverfront Stadium opened Tuesday, June 30, 1970. Atlanta’s Hank Aaron hit the first HR, on June 30, top of the first. Aaron and seven other NL All-Stars were voted in by fans for the first time since the 1957 “fiasco,” when a virtually all-Cincinnati line-up was voted in due to ballot stuffing. Gil Hodges, New York Mets skipper, determined the NL 1970  batting order and starter. Earl Weaver did likewise for the AL in the first night-time MLB All-Star Game.

Table I: AL/NL Starting Line-ups, MLB All-Star Game, Cincinnati, Ohio, July 14, 1970

AL PLAYERTEAMPOSNL PLAYERTEAMPOS
Luis AparicioCWSSSWillie MaysSFGCF
Carl YastrzemskiBOSLFDick AllenSLC1B
Frank RobinsonBALRFHank AaronATLRF
Boog PowellBAL1BTony PérezCIN3B
Harmon KillebrewMIN3BRico CartyATLLF
Frank HowardWASLFJohnny BenchCINC
Davey JohnsonBAL2BDon KessingerCHISS
Bill FreehanDETCGlenn BeckertCHI2B
Jim PalmerBALPTom SeaverNYMP

Source: https://www.baseball-reference.com/allstar/1970-allstar-game.shtml

The NL won, 5-4, when Pete Rose collided with Ray Fosse, to score the winning tally in the 12th. Fosse dropped the ball and never fully recovered from a shoulder injury. Aparicio (VZA), Tony (Cuban-born) and Carty (DR) were a source of pride to their countries, as was Roberto Clemente (PR), whose Sac Fly in the ninth, off Mel Stottlemyre, tied it, 4-4. LHP Clyde Wright, Tony’s Ponce teammate, 1970 Caribbean Series, was the loser.

Weaver’s Orioles bested Anderson’s Reds, four games-to-one, 1970 World Series. In Game Two, a 6-5 Baltimore win, RHP Dick Hall retired Tony with two on and two out in the seventh;  Bench, Lee May and Hal McRae in the eighth; then, Tommy Helms, Bernie Carbo and Jimmie Stewart in the ninth. Tony opined: “He’s [Hall] got that funny motion. He throws a change-up or a palm ball; don’t know what it is. Oh, that pitch was a good one to hit.” https://sabr.org/journal/article/dick-halls-baltimore-legacy/ Tony’s .317/.401/.589 slash line, .990 OPS, 40 HR and 129 RBI were single-season MLB highs. He now had 90+ RBI in four straight NL seasons, 1967-1970, and averaged 30 HR and 111 RBI.

Santurce Crabbers: 1970-71 season and 1971 Caribbean Series

Frank Robinson, Tony’s Santurce manager in 1969-70, managed him in 1970-71 and beyond, and was Tony’s 1964 and 1965 Cincinnati Reds teammate. “Frank taught me a lot,” recalled Tony. “I was disappointed when he was traded to Baltimore…I had never been thrown out of a game, but somehow he [Frank] helped make that happen in Puerto Rico—got our fans worked up against the umpire…”

On January 12, 1971, Santurce fans honored Tony with a Special Night—gave him a brand new Buick Riviera. Only a select few have been so honored in Puerto Rico; among them, San Juan’s Ellis “Cot” Deal, an Oklahoman, January 2,1953, with a De Soto sedan. Tony played in a League All-Star Game, January 6, 1971, and scored the Imports’ only run, in a 4-1 loss to the Natives, managed by Roberto Clemente. On January 24, Tony’s RBI single off San Juan’s LHP Ken Brett jump-started Santurce to a 5-2 win, in Game Four of their semi-finals. Santurce won that series and the seven-game finals versus Caguas.

Table II: Tony Pérez Hitting Stats, Santurce Crabbers, 1969-71

SeasonGABRH2B3BHRRBIKBBAVGSLG
1969-7060217416817011352122.313.544
1970-71331151834808241711.296.574
Total933325910225019593833.307.554

Source: https://beisbol101.com/atanasio-tany-perez/

The Licey Tigers (6-0 W-L) won the February 6-11, 1971 Caribbean Series at Hiram Bithorn Stadium. Tony’s 11th inning-single drove in Sandy Alomar Sr. with the game-winner, in a 5-4 triumph over Mexico’s Hermosillo Orange Growers, opening night, but the Crabbers fell to Venezuela’s LaGuaira Sharks, the next afternoon, 6-5, despite a Reggie Jackson HR for Santurce, witnessed by the author that Sunday. Licey’s players earned $535 apiece, as their winning share. Licey’s player-manager Manny Mota was Series MVP, with a .579 AVG. Tony had a .429 AVG with one HR, four RBI and series-leading two SB! Table III has Tony’s complete Caribbean Series stats; Table IV, AVG; and, Table V, SLG rankings, Phases I and II.

Table III: Tony Pérez Hitting Stats, Caribbean Series, 1970-79

SeriesVenueTeamGABRH2B3BHRRBIAVGSLG
1970^CaracasPonce8304112014.367.533
1971#San JuanSanturce514361014.429.714
1973CaracasSanturce617462011.353.647
1979San JuanCaguas6243111001.458.500
Totals  2585143460310.400.576

^16 total bases led series. #Two SB led series. Source: Tony Piña Campora file, June 12, 2021.

Table IV: Highest AVG, Phase I (1949-1960), Phase II (1970-2021), Caribbean Series

Phase II (1970-2021)CountryABHAVGPhase I (1949-1960)CountryABHAVG
Tony PérezPR8534.400Bob ThurmanPR6324.381
Armando RíosPR/MX9737.381Wilmer FieldsPR/VZA5621.375
Manny MotaDR10538.362Hector RodríguezCuba8430.357
David OrtizDR12143.355Pedro FormentalCuba6021.350
Juan GonzálezPR7526.347Willard BrownPR6723.343
Neifi PérezDR9432.340Sandy AmorósCuba8027.338
Candy MaldonadoPR7525.333Roberto ClementePR4916.327
Darryl BrinkleyMX11839.331Angel ScullCuba4915.306
Alfonso H. JiménezDR10033.330Luis R. OlmoPR7623.303
José OffermanDR8628.326Joe TuminelliPAN8425.298
Jesús AlfaroVZA8026.325Héctor LópezPAN10531.295

Note: 49+ AB, Phase I; 75+ AB, Phase II. In Phase I, Orlando Cepeda, PR  (15/45), .333 AVG; Orestes “Minnie” Miñoso, Cuba, (16/45), .356 AVG; Lou Limmer, PR/VZA (15/41), .366 AVG; Jim Gilliam, PR (18/47), .383 AVG; Solly Drake, Cuba (18/46), .391 AVG. Source: Tony Piña Campora, Historia de la Confederación, 2014.

Table V: Highest SLG, Phase I (1949-1960), Phase II (1970-2021), Caribbean Series

Phase II (1970-2021)CountryABTBSLGPhase I (1949-1960)CountryABTBSLG
Armando RíosPR/MX9763.649Wilmer FieldsPR/VZA5638.679
Carmelo MartínezPR11266.589Willard BrownPR6742.627
David OrtizDR12170.579Roberto ClementePR4929.592
Tony PérezPR8549.576Bob ThurmanPR6337.587
Candy MaldonadoPR7543.573Héctor RodríguezCuba8449.583
Juan GonzálezPR7542.560Pedro FormentalCuba6034.567
Miguel TejadaDR270151.559Angel ScullCuba4924.490
Miguel FloresMX8446.548Luis R. OlmoPR7637.487
Héctor VillanuevaPR12467.540Héctor LópezPAN10551.486
Jesús AlfaroVZA8043.538Elías OsorioPAN6230.484

Source: Tony Piña Campora, Serie del Caribe: Historia de la Confederación, 2014.

Special thanks to Tony Pérez; to Tony Piña Campora, for Tony’s Caribbean Series stats; Miguel Dupouy Gómez, for his July 2020 blog; Germán J. Rivas; Sparky Anderson, Paul Doyle, Jim Fregosi, Dick Hall, Frank Robinson, and Jorge Colón Delgado, official historian, Roberto Clemente Professional Baseball League.

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