Cincinnati Reds #24 Retired
Atanasio (Tony) Perez Rigal was born on May 14th, 1942 in Ciego de Avilla, Cuba. Tony was born to a working class family in the heart of Cuba. From a young age his athleticism was known. With great fondness Tony Perez refers to a fellow player in Cuba for his inspiration to play baseball, Minni Monoso. It was an inspiration that spurred a career that would span over 23 years and take him from playing ball for a factory team in Cuba to the Major Leagues in the United States. Tony Perez was signed by Cincinnati in 1959 after baseball scouts watched him play for Havana Sugar Mill Company. Legend has it that when Perez was signed he was awarded no signing bonus, only given a plane ticket out of Cuba and $2.50 for an exit visa.
Tony was a key member of the Big Red Machine and was a critical factor in the back-to-back World Series Championships of 1975, and 1976. He was known for his ability to drive in runs; for 11 consecutive seasons between 1967 and 1977, Perez had at least 90 runs batted in (RBIs), and he was 14th on the list of career RBIs, when he ended his playing career in 1986. In the year 2000, Tony was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York, thusly becoming only the second Cuban (1st Martin Dihigo) to be enshrined in the hall.