So how can you be underrated, with over 2700 career hits, 1600 RBI’s, 379 home runs AND a Hall of Fame inductee? When you’re Tony Perez, aka “Big Dog”, on a team that also boasted the likes of Pete Rose, Johnny Bench and Joe Morgan!
Here’s my nickname card for the RBI-machine during the 1970’s:
Perez was just about “automatic” during the “Big Red Machine” years.
Year in and year out you could pencil him in for 20+ homers, 90+ runs
batted in, and between 60-70 extra-base-hits.
For eleven straight seasons, between 1967 and 1977, Perez topped 90
RBI’s, with a high of 129 in 1970, when he also hit a career-high 40
home runs for the beginning of what was to be a dominant team on it’s
way to two championships and four World Series appearances.
By the time he was done after 23 seasons on a Major League diamond in
1986, Perez hit .279 with 2732 hits, 1272 runs scored, 1652 runs batted
in and the aforementioned 379 homers, with “only” seven all-star nods,
often overshadowed by his more well-known teammates.
I’ll always remember a statement former Reds’ manager Sparky Anderson
made years later, one that I’ve mentioned before here on this blog, when
he said that when the Reds traded Perez to the Montreal Expos after the
1976 season, it killed the “Big Red Machine”.
Think about that for a moment.
Just an awesome player who had the (mis)fortune to play alongside a
handful of other all-star players who ruled the decade and took home SIX