Kansas City catcher Salvador Perez visits Hall of Fame

Written by: Bill Francis

One of MLB’s top catchers recently used part of his early offseason to tour the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

Salvador Pérez, 28, is coming off his eighth season in the majors, all spent with the Kansas City Royals. Named to his sixth consecutive All-Star team in July, the native of Venezuela, who in 2018 clubbed 27 homers and drove in 80 runs for the second consecutive campaign, has in the last week been announced as the American League’s winner of the Gold Glove Award (his fifth) and Silver Slugger Award (also won in 2016) for the catching position.

Pérez arrived in Cooperstown with a dozen friends, including Royals catching coach Pedro Grifol, and family members – a group that included his wife, mother, mother-in-law and 2-year-old son Johan – on Nov. 10, one day after attending the 2018 Gold Glove Award Ceremony in New York City.

“This has been great. Amazing,” said a beaming Pérez in the Hall of Fame’s Plaque Gallery, at the conclusion of a tour that included stops at exhibits Babe Ruth: His Life and Legend and ¡Viva Baseball! “This is my first time to Cooperstown. It was someplace I always wanted to see.

“I’m excited to be here and hopefully after about 20 years I can be here, too, like these guys with plaques. It’s been something we’ve always wanted to do. We don’t usually have this kind of time with a long season and then spending time with the family, but with all of us being in New York City for the Gold Glove Award ceremony, I said, ‘Okay, I’m going to take one day to go see the Hall of Fame.’ It was super important.

“This place is for family and friends. They’ve all enjoyed it a lot. They’re excited, just like me. And I invite everybody here to Cooperstown because you’re going to learn a lot about baseball.”

Included in the Locker Room exhibit, in which all 30 MLB clubs are represented with their most recent artifacts, one finds the Pérez-donated black leather catcher’s mitt he used when he captured the 2015 World Series Most Valuable Player Award. In that Fall Classic, he batted .364 (8-for-22) with two doubles, two RBI and three runs scored, helping the Royals in defeating the New York Mets in five games.

“I was excited to see that glove in the Hall of Fame,” Pérez said. “And to see it here with my family and friends is great. It reminds me a little bit of the moment. It brings back great memories and how happy I was to donate my glove to the Hall of Fame so people can see it.”

While speaking in the Plaque Galley, the young catcher marveled at the legends surrounding him.

“This is unbelievable. Luis Aparicio, I know him and we talk a lot back in Venezuela,” Pérez said. “He’s the only Venezuelan in the Hall of Fame, but hopefully more Venezuelan players can be in here in the future. As a Venezuelan, I wanted to see his plaque and honor him.

“And Babe Ruth and Ted Williams are some of my favorite players. I grew up learning about the history of these guys.

"Johnny Bench is my guy. And Iván Rodríguez. It’s great to see them all here.”

Before he left, and while holding Johan in his arms, Pérez was asked if his young son would also one day be a ballplayer.

“I want him to,” Pérez said. “Maybe a catcher, too. We’ll see.”

Bill Francis is the senior research and writing specialist at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum

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