BBWAA elects Carlton Fisk and Tony Perez to HOF
October of 1975 brought not only a World Series which will go down in history, but also the unlikeliest of rivalries between two postseason heroes.
A 27-year old backstop who called Bellows Falls, Vt., his home, squared off against a 33-year old first baseman heralding from Camaguey, Cuba, a cultural difference that can’t be overstated. But the improbable duo shared the same competitive spirit, that eventually led one to a historic walk-off home run in Game 6, and the other to a series-winning two-run home run in Game 7.
Carlton Fisk and Tony Pérez would briefly meet again as Red Sox teammates in 1980. But a more enduring reunion would come 30 years later, when they learned that the BBWAA had elected them to the Hall of Fame as part of the Class of 2000 on Jan. 11, 2000.
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With their in-game rivalry decades behind them, the two had developed a profound respect for each-other.
“Tony always had a knack of being the guy who broke the game open or sealed the game shut,” Carlton Fisk said after learning he would share the Induction stage with Pérez. “I’ll be proud to be able to stand on the same podium as him.”
Pérez shared the same sentiment, telling the Associated Press that “I am thrilled to go in with him, to go in with someone you know.”
Fisk entered the Hall of Fame in his second year of eligibility, with 79.6 percent of the vote. He was the 13th catcher to be inducted and held the records for most defensive games at the position (2,226) and most home runs by a catcher (351) at the time of his retirement. The 11-time All-Star accumulated 2,356 hits during his 24 years with the Red Sox and the White Sox.
“It’s been 35 years since I started playing, and I put my heart and soul and a lot of things on the back-burner to even be considered for this,” Fisk said to reporters on a conference call shortly after the announcement. “It’s quite a proud moment.”
Pérez, elected to the Hall in his ninth year of eligibility with 77.2 percent, was the first Cuban-born player to be voted in by the BBWAA. He played professional baseball for 23 seasons with the Reds, Red Sox, Expos and Phillies. The seven-time All-Star ended his career with 1,652 RBI, finishing seven seasons with 100-or-more. He also compiled nine seasons of at least 20 home runs, totaling 379. Despite his impressive statistics, he still asked “are you sure” when he received the call from the BBWAA.
“This is very special for me,” he said to the press on a conference call following the announcement. “It’s sweet now, when I’m in. It doesn’t matter how long I had to wait. I doubt that a king on his coronation feels better than me today.”
Alex Coffey was the communications specialist at the National Baseball Hall of Fame