Anderson, Fisk, McPhee, Perez, Stearnes enter Hall as Class of 2000

Part of the INSIDE PITCH series
Written by: Kristen Gowdy

On Oct. 21, 1975, Tony Pérez watched from his position at first base as Carlton Fisk smacked a home run down the left field line at Fenway Park to give Boston an extra-inning walk off victory in Game 6 of the World Series.

The very next night, Pérez returned the favor, crushing a two-run home run over the Green Monster while Fisk was behind the plate to start a rally that would eventually end in the Reds’ 4-3 win in Game 7.

Cincinnati manager Sparky Anderson watched both home runs from the third-base dugout as his Reds beat Boston in the thrilling series that re-energized baseball for a nation.

A quarter-century later, all three were enshrined in Cooperstown on the same day.

Fisk, Pérez and Anderson, along with Bid McPhee and Turkey Stearnes (who were both elected posthumously) were inducted to the National Baseball Hall of Fame on July 23, 2000.

The Class of 2000 was a tribute to Cincinnati baseball, as McPhee also played for the Red Stockings in the late nineteenth century. The four players and Anderson were immortalized in front of a then-record 45 returning Hall of Famers.

Fisk, the sixth catcher to be inducted to the Hall of Fame, set the record (since eclipsed) for most games behind the plate at 2,226. During his 24-year career in which he played for both the Red Sox and the Chicago White Sox, Fisk hit 376 home runs, 351 of which came while he was catching, a record at the time.

He is most famous for his walk-off home run in Game 6 of the 1975 World Series, but the 11-time All-Star was also known for his passion and work ethic.

“After a nine-inning game, it could have been 100 degrees out and he would still spend two hours a night in the weight room preparing for the next day,” former White Sox manager Jeff Torborg told the Albany Times-Union in 2000. “That’s one of the reasons he was so special.”

A World Series Championship eluded Fisk, but he won a Gold Glove in 1972, his first full season in the Majors when he was also the American League’s Rookie of the Year, and was known as one of the smartest catchers in the game.

“He told me once not to shake off his signs for one game,” White Sox pitcher Dave LaPoint told the Albany-Times Union.

“I’m not dumb enough to not trust history, so I didn’t shake off for the next five games and went on a huge winning streak.”

While he was a huge presence behind the plate, Fisk was also one of the best offensive catchers of all time. He won the Silver Slugger award three times, recorded 2,356 career hits and had a lifetime .269 batting average. The second-ballot Hall of Famer finished in the Top 10 in the American League MVP-voting four times in his career.

Pérez was part of the Big Red Machine teams that won five National League West titles, four National League pennants, and two World Series championships from 1970-76. The Cuban-born Pérez also helped pave the way for future Latin-American stars when he joined the elite group of Latin-born Hall of Famers that includes Roberto Clemente, Orlando Cepeda and Rod Carew among others. Pérez was just the seventh Latin-born player to earn enshrinement in Cooperstown.

“We represent all Latin Americans,” Pérez said in 2000. “You have to be proud to be part of a group like that.”

Over the course of his 23-year career, the seven-time All-Star hit .279 and smacked 379 home runs, winning the All-Star MVP Award in 1967. Though he never won a Gold Glove, Pérez sported a .992 career fielding percentage.

Pérez, who was inducted after nine years on the Baseball Writers’ Association of America ballot, also recorded 1,652 RBI.

“I was a gamer,” Pérez told the Oneonta Daily Star in 2000. “I came to play every day and I came to win. I didn’t care how I did, as long as we won. People say, ‘Well, Tony, you were an RBI man.’ That may be true, but RBIs are what win games.”

After a playing career that lasted one season with the Phillies in 1959, George Lee “Sparky” Anderson went on to become the only manager to win World Series Championships in both the American and the National League. He managed the Big Red Machine, and was known for his heavy reliance on the bullpen, a practice that has become commonplace today.

“There’s two kinds of managers,” Anderson said. “One, that ain’t very smart. He gets bad players, loses games, and gets fired. Then there was somebody like me that was a genius. I got good players, stayed out of their way, let them win a lot and then just hung around for 26 years.”

Anderson’s 26 years included three World Series titles, two Manager of the Year Awards, and 2,194 victories, the third most in Major League History.

John Alexander “Bid” McPhee was elected by the Veterans Committee after spending 18 years as a second baseman for the Cincinnati Red Stockings from 1882-99. McPhee compiled a .271 batting average and had 2,258 hits in his career.

McPhee was also known for playing barehanded even after gloves became popular among other players.

Norman Thomas “Turkey” Stearnes was also chosen by the Veteran’s Committee. Stearnes played in the Negro Leagues from 1920-40. An athletic center fielder, he batted over .300 in 10 of his 20 years in professional baseball, including a career-high .441 in 1935.

“There’s no ball player I know that hit more home runs than Turkey Stearnes,” said Hall of Famer Cool Papa Bell. “And he was one of the best all-around ball players. Everyone knows he was a great outfielder. He could field, throw, run and hit.”

Kristen Gowdy was the 2014 public relations intern in the Frank and Peggy Steele Internship Program at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum

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