Tony Perez, affectionately known as ‘Big Dog’ by Reds fans, will be honored with a statue outside of Great American Ballpark. He will also be showing off his skills from the mound, as he throws out the first pitch, before the Cincinnati Reds face the Arizona Diamondbacks at GABP.
The ceremonies and festivities started Friday and will go all weekend.
Perez spent 16 years with the Cincinnati Reds and was a part of two National League Championships in 1970 and 1972. The Reds were favorites to take it all in 1973 but were upset by the New York Mets. Tony was laid back and struggled with the English language. But what he lacked in communication abilities, he made up for with his play on the field.
As part of the 1975 and 1976 versions of the Big Red Machine, Perez helped check the huge egos of his Cincinnati teammates. His humility and humble approach to the game helped keep the massive talent of the Cincinnati Reds locker room focused on winning. Tony helped to mold some of his famous teammates into the humble men needed to capture a Series.
The bronze statue of Tony, sculpted by Tom Tsuchiya, will stand outside the entrance to GABP. The statue captures Perez in a game changing swing that delivered a home run in Game 7 of the 1975 World Series. The blast was a massive, towering shot over the Green Monster in Fenway Park. It changed the momentum of the game and eventually led to a game-winning hit by Joe Morgan.
That homer led to the Big Red Machine’s first World Championship.
Rick Walls, director of the Reds Hall of Fame agrees that the moment is something special.
“You can see it in the players’ emotions. The statues give a finality to their careers, a ‘final-honor’ quality. By that I mean it’s the final honor they’ll probably receive. It’s something that is also really appreciated by the family, friends and fans. I think everybody’s going to see a side of Tony (Saturday) that maybe he isn’t used to showing.”
Walls refers to Perez as the glue which held the Reds together and helped them battle back to win that 1975 World Series Championship. His swing was the capstone for the dynasty of the 70s.
Members of the 1975-76 Cincinnati Reds World Series Championship teams will participate in events to celebrate the career of the legendary Reds slugger on Saturday Night.
Whether he said it in Spanish or broken English, you could be sure of one thing: The Big Doggie was in it to win it.
[Photo by Otto Greule Jr./Getty Images]