Tony Perez was coming of age in Cuba right in the middle of a revolution. Fidel Castro was coming to power, and the island nation had very strained relations with the United States. But baseball is a different world, and those who played it in Cuba continued to do what they had always done: Play the game. It was 1958, and the teenager was playing for a team representing the sugar refinery where he worked. It was a Saturday afternoon, and his team was playing against a team from a coffee processing factory. A former player for the Havana Sugar Kings was in the bleachers that day, and watched young Perez go 7 for 7 with three home runs. He also stole three bases during the game. Word soon got back to Havana about a skinny kid named Tony Perez.
In 1960, young Tony was good enough to be signed by the Havana Sugar Kings of the International League, a team affiliated with the Cincinnati Reds. When Reds scouts saw him hit, they liked him and paid the Havana team for his contract. Tony was whisked out of Cuba on a flight just hours before the Cuban government suspended all travel to the United States. Unable to speak English, he was sent to Geneva in the New York – Penn. League to start his career. He had a big year at Geneva in ’61 (27-132-.348)
Over the next decades, Tony would make a name for himself and end up at Cooperstown, humbly accepting his inclusion in baseball’s most prestigious fraternity – the Hall Of Fame.
Tony Perez came from a foreign country, speaking in broken English, and became a success as a player, as a leader, and as a human being.
This card was issued by Monarch Corona