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

In the States, he is Tony Pérez; in the Caribbean, Tany Pérez. He was inducted in the Puerto Rico Professional Baseball Hall of Fame (1996); Caribbean Series Hall of Fame (1998); and, Cooperstown (2000). Part IV ended with the 1979-80 Puerto Rico Winter League (PRWL) finals between Santurce and Bayamón. Part V focuses on:

  • Tony’s 1980-86 MLB seasons
  • 1982-83 PRWL season with Santurce
  • 1990 World Series ring as Cincinnati coach
  • NL manager with Cincinnati and Florida
  • Awards and honors.

Phil Cola’s  SABR bio of Tony, at: https://sabr.org/bioproj/person/tony-perez/ has other details.

Don Zimmer and 1980 Boston Red Sox

Don Zimmer was fired on October 1, 1980, with Boston at 82-73. Zimmer, a Cincinnati native, managed Boston to a 411-304 (.575 PCT) record since 1976. His last visit to Puerto Rico was for a 1979-80 ceremony honoring Santurce’s 1954-55 Caribbean Series champions, which included  Bob Thurman (RF), Willie Mays (CF), Roberto Clemente (LF); Zimmer (SS), pitchers Rubén Gómez, Bill Greason and Sam Jones…Zimmer was MVP, February 10-15, 1955 Caribbean Series in Caracas with a .385 AVG, .808 SLG, 3 HR and 4 RBI, in six games.

The author interviewed (coach) Zimmer pre-1992 Red Sox spring training game. Zimmer managed Johnny Bench, 19-year old catcher with 1967-68 San Juan Senators, before he [Zimmer] was fired that winter. “Johnny [Bench] was just a kid who improved a lot with San Juan but Tony—with 1967-68 Santurce—was a proven big-league hitter,” said Zimmer. “Tony was our best power and clutch hitter, my last [1980] season managing Boston.”

Per Miguel Dupouy Gómez’s blog https://beisbolinmortal.blogspot.com/2020/07/tany-perez-un-bateador-decisivo-y.html, Tony had a 17-game hit streak in 1980. On April 16, he went 4-for-4 versus Sparky Anderson’s Detroit Tigers. Tony drilled a HR versus Milwaukee, May 31, following Carlton Fisk’s blast, pre-Butch Hobson’s homer, for a back-to-back-to-back trifecta. Tony led the 1980 Red Sox in HR/RBI.

Table I: 1980 Boston Red Sox Position Players/Top Reserves

PlayerPosAVGHRRBI
Carlton Fisk#C.2891862
Tony Pérez#1B.27525105
Dave Stapleton2B.321745
Glenn Hoffmann3B/UT.285442
Rick BurlesonSS.278851
Jim Rice#LF.2942486
Fred LynnCF.3011261
Dwight EvansRF.2661860
Carl Yastrzemski#DH.2751550
Jim DwyerOF.285938
Butch Hobson3B.2281139

#Cooperstown inductees. Source: https://www.baseball-reference.com/teams/BOS/1980.shtml

Tony turns 40 with Boston

Boston went 59-49, in 1981 strike-season. In 1982, they were 89-73, behind Milwaukee (95-67) and Baltimore (94-68). Ralph Houk managed Tony, 1981 and 1982. Tony competed against Sparky Anderson’s Detroit Tigers and Earl Weaver’s Baltimore Orioles, his skippers with Cincinnati (1970-76) and Santurce (1966-68). In 1982, 40-year old Tony  got MLB career hit #2,500 off LHP Bob McClure of Milwaukee at County Stadium, July 2.

Boston teammate, 23-year old rookie Wade Boggs, starred for 1981-82 Bayamón Cowboys (.354 AVG). The author interviewed Boggs in 1992, same day he conversed with Zimmer. Boggs lived in Aguadilla, Puerto Rico, three years, when his dad was stationed at Ramey Air Force Base, early 1960s. Boggs had pleasant PRWL memories, playing alongside SS Dickie Thon, batting title winner. (Boggs did not have required AB.)

1982-83 Santurce Crabbers

Bayamón’s Juan Ramón Loubriel Stadium became home to the Crabbers, 1982-83. Santurce owner Poto Paniagua was rewarded when 200,414 fans paid to see first-place Crabbers play 31 home games. Luis Tiant (age 41) and Tony (age 40) were two Cuban legends on Santurce’s roster, one with Eduardo Figueroa, first Puerto Rico-born MLB 20-game winner (1978 Yankees). LHP Ken Dayley started, as did White Sox prospect Reggie Patterson. The bullpen was anchored by José Alvarez; Guillermo “Willie” Hernández, 1984 AL MVP and Cy Young winner; Mark Brown, Carlos Díaz and Mark Smith.

Pat Tabler, Santurce IF, called Tony the “most influential guy on the team for his leadership abilities.” Tiant was another veteran Tabler looked up to. He once asked Tiant how he could still pitch so well past 40. Tiant ate a daily rattlesnake concoction, powdery thing, that if sprinkled on food, could prolong one’s career. Tabler took one sniff of it, licked and tasted it, before throwing it away.

Santurce was no-hit by Bayamón’s Andy Hawkins, November 2, 1983. Tony Pérez Day was held at Loubriel, December 12. Tony, his wife Pituka, sons Víctor and Eduardo, and teammates, enjoyed gift giving and other amenities. Tiant, with relief help from Willie Hernández, bested Bayamón. In mid-December, Santurce traded Rogelio Moret to Caguas for a player to be named later. Tony and Juan José Beníquez—1977 Gold Glove winner with Texas—were the only Crabbers left from their 1972-73 championship team. Dayley started, and won, the League All-Star Game for the Metro squad (Caguas, Santurce, San Juan) versus the Island team—Arecibo, Mayagüez and Ponce. Iván de Jesús, Crabbers SS, got the game-winning hit, in the Metros 3-2 victory.

Tony’s last Santurce regular season game was January 17, 1983. His three RBI against Ponce were decisive in that first-place tie-breaker, a 7-6 win, behind Figueroa and Dayley. Tony got a standing ovation. “Poto Paniagua was great…gave me the opportunity to play for Santurce as a veteran and I wanted to do something for him and the Santurce franchise,” said Tony. “Puerto Rico had helped me a lot and I owe a debt to the Island and its fine people.” Tony went 49-for-169, a .290 AVG, 6 HR, 30 RBI, his last Crabbers season.

Arecibo bested Santurce in six semi-final games, with a January 25, 1983, series-ending 9-6 win. They won the 1983 Caribbean Series in Venezuela. Carlos Lezcano recalled: “A number of us [Candy Maldonado, Onix Concepción, René Quiñónes] had been with Arecibo during the tough times. It was something else to win it all.”

Table II: 1982-83 PRWL Standings

 TeamW-LPCTGB
Santurce Crabbers35-26.574
Ponce Lions34-27.5571
Bayamón Cowboys32-28.5332.5
Arecibo Wolves28-32.4676.5
Caguas Criollos26-34.4338.5
Mayagüez Indians26-34.4338.5

Source: The Santurce Crabbers (1999), T.E. Van Hyning.

Tony’s successful Caribbean Series career comprises Tables III-V.

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.

End of the Road and Honors

Tony concluded his big-league career with 1983 Phillies and 1984-86 Reds. He was reunited with Joe Morgan and Pete Rose, 1983 Philadelphia. On May 13, 1985, one day shy of 43, his pinch-hit grand-slam gave Cincinnati a 7-3 win over the Phillies. He was the oldest major-leaguer to accomplish this. Tony’s minor-league and big-league stats are at  https://www.baseball-reference.com/register/player.fcgi?id=perez-001ata  His PRWL stats are at: https://beisbol101.com/atanasio-tany-perez/

In 1990, he earned a third World Series ring as Cincinnati’s 1B coach. He managed the 1993 Reds to a 20-24 record, and the 2001 Florida Marlins to a 54-60 mark, under GM Dave Dombrowski.  

Tables VI-IX, per various sources, include special honors/Hall of Fame Inductions. Tony was in the last (1996) Puerto Rico Professional Baseball Hall of Fame Class, with ex-Crabbers Raymond Brown, Buster Clarkson, Joshua Gibson, Satchel Paige and manager George Scales.

Table VI: Partial List of Tony  Pérez Awards/Honors, 1980-2000

Award/InductionsYear
Lou Gehrig Memorial Award1980
Roberto Clemente Memorial Award1982
Pedrín Zorrilla Award1992
Puerto Rico Professional Baseball Hall of Fame1996
Caribbean Series Baseball Hall of Fame1998
Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame1998
National Baseball Hall of Fame (Cooperstown)2000

Table VII: Santurce Crabbers in Caribbean Series Hall of Fame

Player#PositionsInduction
Willard BrownOF1996
Tony Pérez1B/3B/DH1998
Rubén GómezP1999
Juan “Terín” PizarroP2000
Guigo Otero SuroExecutive2003
José “Pantalones” SantiagoP2003
Luis R. OlmoOF2004
Willie MaysOF2005
Pedrín ZorrillaOwner/GM2007
Dickie ThonSS/DH2008
Roberto Alomar2B2011
Roberto ClementeOF2015
Juan GonzálezOF2015
Héctor VillanuevaC/1B/DH2015
James “Buster” ClarksonSS/3B/MGR2020
Bob ThurmanOF2020

#Played for Santurce at least one regular season. 

Table VIII: Santurce Crabbers in Cooperstown

PlayerPositionsSanturce SeasonsInduction
Roy CampanellaC1944-451969
Satchel PaigeP1947-481971
Joshua GibsonC1939-40, 41-42, 45-461972
Roberto ClementeOF1952-561973
Willie MaysOF1954-551979
Bob GibsonP1961-621982
Frank RobinsonMGR1968-71, 72-75, 1978-801982
Ray Dandridge3B1941-42, 1953-541987
Jim PalmerP1968-691990
Reggie JacksonOF1970-711993
Leon DayP1949-501995
Earl WeaverMGR1966-681996
Tommy LasordaP1953-541997
Orlando Cepeda1B1955-62, 63-65, 66-68, 71-72, 74-751999
Robin YountSS1974-751999
Tony Pérez1B/3B/DH1964-68, 69-71, 72-73, 78-80, 82-832000
Raymond BrownP/OF1940-41, 46-472006
Willard BrownOF1946-1954, 56-572006
Roberto Alomar2B2004-052011
Lee SmithP1980-812019

Table IX: Santurce Crabbers—

300+ MLB Career HR

PlayerHR
Willie Mays660
Frank Robinson586
Reggie Jackson563
Carlos Delgado473
Juan González434
Orlando Cepeda379
Tony Pérez379
Don Baylor338
Darryl Strawberry335
Ron Cey316
Rubén “El Indio” Sierra306

Source: https://www.baseball-reference.com/leaders/HR_career.shtml

Special thanks to Tony Pérez; to Tony Piña Campora, for Tony’s Caribbean Series stats; Miguel Dupouy Gómez, July 23, 2020 blog; Germán J. Rivas; Wade Boggs, Ken Dayley, Carlos Lezcano, Pat Tabler, Luis Tiant, Don Zimmer and Jorge Colón Delgado, official historian, Roberto Clemente Professional Baseball League.

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