Thursday, March 04, 1999
Reds hope Cepeda boosts Perez
BY CHRIS HAFT
The Cincinnati Enquirer
SARASOTA, Fla. Though Orlando Cepeda never played a single game for Cincinnati, his ascent to the Hall of Fame was welcome news in the Reds' camp.
Longtime Reds agreed Cepeda's election to baseball's shrine by the Hall's Veterans Committee could improve Tony Perez's chances, since the pair of first basemen were comparable players.
That's the first thing that came to my mind when I heard (of Cepeda's election), said pitching coach Don Gullett, one of Perez's former Reds teammates. I don't have the numbers readily in my mind, but I know it's bound to help Tony.
Cepeda, a nine-time All-Star, hit .297 in his career with 379 homers and 1,365 RBI in 17 seasons. Perez, a seven-time All-Star, batted .279 with 379 homers and 1,652 RBI in 23 seasons.
Said shortstop Barry Larkin, Anybody getting in opens the door for anyone with similar stats or in a similar situation.
Steady production distinguished Perez, who drove in 90 runs or more for 11 consecutive seasons (1967-77).
I think Tony Perez deserves to be in the Hall of Fame, not because I played with him, but because of the consistency and the numbers he put up, Gullett said. If you wanted a big RBI, he was the guy to get it.
I hope it does, said bench coach Ken Griffey Sr., another Big Red Machine alumnus, when asked if Cepeda's selection could assist Perez. There's no question he should be in there. Any way it helps him get in there, that would be great. As long as he's in. That team in 1975-76 would not be the same (without Perez).
Even unbiased observers such as Giants manager Dusty Baker made the Cepeda-Perez connection: Tony Perez is next, hopefully, Baker told San Francisco-area reporters.
Larkin observed that Cepeda's good fortune could help another notable Red.
Referring to Cepeda's 1975 arrest on a charge of importing marijuana, Larkin said, I'd just like to see somebody get in to open the door for Pete (Rose). Maybe this does it as well, with that negative tag (Cepeda) had.
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