Tony Perez and the Hall of Shame

How can anyone say that Tony El Perez-o doesn't belong in the Hall.

His numbers speak for themselves: of all the guys who ever played first base, and played for the Reds, and then played for the Philberts, and whose first name is Tony (or Antonio, or Antwan, or Antonichi), and who happen to have the last name Perez, and who have whined that they have been kept out of the Hall because of racial prejudice without citing the number of latin players that are already in the Hall, and whose friends whine about how nice he is, and who complain that "we should put Tony in the Hall based solely on his ethnic make-up to atone for past racial injustice"

.....why then it becomes very clear, of all the players who match that description, Tony Perez had the best numbers...well, actually he's the only player who matches that description, so, actually, his number would really represent the AVERAGE for that group.

Which is just what Perez' career was...AVERAGE.

Yeah, but back to that racial thing....what a joke.

Personally, I want to see Juan Acevedo put in to the Hall of Fame right now...forget the fact that he's still pitching (if you can call pitching for Milwaukee "pitching"). I mean, he's qualified just because there aren't any Portuguese guys in the Hall and he's Portuguese. Obvious discrimination that must be corrected...right?

...We think we're on to something here...better call Ken Friggin Starr!!!!!!! First Phil Rizzuto and now this.

OK, let's calm down now and look at recent history and the career of Mr. Perez a little more closely…

Let's see, there was Phil Niekro and his 318 wins, in 1997, but at least he had three 20-win seasons in his career. Next, in 1998, we had Don Sutton, with his 324 wins (impressive yes), but ONLY ONE 20-win season in his career. We'll at least grant that there are valid arguments for these two being elected.

Last year we had the selection of Orlando Cepada (note that this was not by the Baseball Writers). This year it is Tony Perez. Once again we see the continued cheapening of the Hall of Fame.

Once upon a time, the Baseball Hall of Fame was the final resting place of only the game's elite, the best of the best.

So, let us take a look at Mr. Perez and once and for all put this to rest...

The career of Tony Perez spanned 23 years, a long career in comparison to the other BBWA elected first basemen. He had a lifetime batting average of .279. While this is certainly good, it is not great (in fact it is better than only two of the other seven BBWA elected first basemen).

OK, slugging average... at .463, Perez is below ALL of the previous BBWA elected first basemen. 2,732 hits - this is a very good total (it beats all but one current BBWA elected first basemen), but we are talking about this being over a 23-year span. This is less than 120 hits a year, which would only rank Perez #6 (out of 8) in average hits per season.

More... with 505 doubles, Perez would only trail Lou Gehrig (who hit 30 more in 6 fewer seasons). Yet again, when we look at an average season, Perez would only rank #6 (out of 8). 379 home runs, good, but over 23 years this is not nearly good enough.

One of the major claims to fame by Perez supporters is his run production. With a total of 1,652 RBIs, Perez would rank 3rd among BBWA elected first basemen, very good indeed. Yet when we again look at average season numbers, Perez beats out only Willie McCovey. OK, how about if we add in runs scored... sorry, his average season is last here.

So, why are we focusing on only Baseball Writers of America elected players? Very simple, these are the true Hall of Famers, the ones who made it in through the "normal" channel. Granted we do need to question the writers from time to time, I mean come on, these guys didn't even make Babe Ruth a unanimous selection!

Tony Perez is only one of several recently selected players that add to the unfortunate trend of turning the Hall of Fame from the home of baseball greats, to the home of baseball's very good.

Tony Perez, Phil Niekro, Don Sutton…I'm sorry, but these guys are not Hall of Famers. The Baseball Hall of Fame is for baseball's elite, the best of the best. It is not for someone who strictly by nature of a long career is able to put up "Hall of Fame numbers."

There are no (OK, very few) magic numbers that "automatically" get you into The Hall. If this were the case, Dave Kingman would be in! Of course maybe Pete Rose would be too…

It is time to put that specialness back into The Hall. It's time to let the very good be known as just that, and only honor the very best with entry into Valhalla.


© Bucketfoot Baseball Publications, 2000