And this HOF induction belongs to the Reds

Published 12:00 am Monday, July 24, 2000

The Associated Press


Monday, July 24, 2000

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COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. – Nothing on his plaque says anything about the wait Tony Perez endured before he was inducted into the Hall of Fame.

It’s there on the wall along with Big Red Machine teammates Johnny Bench and Joe Morgan and all of the other baseball greats.

”Those nine years don’t mean anything now. They’re behind me,” Perez said Sunday after he was inducted along with former Cincinnati manager Sparky Anderson and Boston catcher Carlton Fisk.

”The only emotion now is that I’m in the Hall of Fame,” Perez said. ”It’s official.”

Perez fell short of the 75 percent needed for election eight times before making it this winter with 77.15 percent of the vote. Going in with Anderson, his manager on the Reds’ World Series champions in 1975-76, made the wait worthwhile.

”I think they made me wait so long so that we could be inducted together,” said Perez, a native Cuban who gave part of his speech in Spanish and even threw in a ”merci beaucoup” as a nod to his playing days in Montreal. ”I doubt that a king on his coronation feels better than me today.”

Also honored Sunday were ”Gloveless Wonder” Bid McPhee, a 19th century Cincinnati second baseman who was the last player to play without a glove, and Negro League star Norm ”Turkey” Stearnes.

An 11-time All-Star, Fisk caught more games – 2,229 – than anyone in baseball history, and hit a record 351 of his 376 homers as a catcher. He was elected in his second year of eligibility with 79.56 percent of the votes.

”His gritty resolve and competitive fire earned him the respect of teammates and opposing players alike,” his plaque reads. ”His dramatic home run to win Game 6 of the 1975 World Series is one of baseball’s unforgettable moments.”

That homer may have defined Fisk’s career. But all it did for the Red Sox was send the Series to Game 7, when Perez homered off a bloop pitch from Bill Lee to help Cincinnati take the title.

”As happy as I was in the sixth game, I was happy for him (Perez) in the seventh game,” Fisk said after the ceremony. ”But I don’t think I was too happy back in 1975.”

Perez drove in at least 90 runs in 11 consecutive seasons from 1967-77. He finished with 1,652 RBIs, which ranks 18th, hit 379 homers and batted .279 while also playing for Boston, Philadelphia and Montreal.

”He tormented the opposition with his ability to consistently drive in runs,” his plaque says. ”A catalyst of Cincinnati’s talented Big Red Machine teams during the 1970s, his subtle leadership and timely hitting helped pace those clubs to five division titles, four pennants and two World Series championships.”

Reds announcer Marty Brennaman was enshrined in the broadcaster’s wing Sunday, commemorating a 26-year career in which he celebrated Cincinnati victories by proclaiming, ”And this one belongs to the Reds.”

With Anderson managing players like Perez, Bench, Morgan and the banished Pete Rose, Brennaman said it an awful lot.

”The crank that turned the Big Red Machine, his skillful leadership helped those Cincinnati teams dominate in the 1970s,” Anderson’s plaque says. ”(He was) revered and treasured by his players for his humility, humanity, eternal optimism and knowledge of the game.”

Anderson is the only manager to win the World Series in both leagues, also winning in 1984 with the Detroit Tigers. He won 2,194 games in all – third most in history behind Connie Mack and John McGraw – and his .691 postseason winning percentage (34-21) is the best ever.

”I got good players, stayed out of their way, let them win a lot and then just hung around for 26 years,” Anderson said. ”I was smart enough to know the people that were doing the work, and I could never thank them (enough) for what they did for me.”