Baseball lost one of its great characters when Pascual Perez was murdered in an apparent home invasion robbery in the Dominican Republic.
Perez pitched for the Pirates, Braves, Expos and Yankees during a career that lasted from 1980 to 1991. His lifetime record was 67-68, one game under .500, but he was an All-Star for the Braves in 1983. For a time, he was credited with a no-hitter – the first in Veterans Stadium history – but the five inning rain-shortened game was later removed from the record books.
But I won’t remember for wins and losses – I’ll remember him for his comical eephus pitch, guaranteed to make someone look foolish. It usually got the better of hitters, but a batter can hit one really far if he’s expecting it. I’ll remember Perez for throwing the ball between his legs on pickoff attempts.
But most of all, I’ll remember the story of how he got lost on the way to the ballpark.
Pascual Perez, recently acquired from Pittsburgh and just up from Richmond, was scheduled to start on a Thursday night in August. His new team had lost 19 of 21 to fall four games behind the hated Dodgers. Only just outfitted with a driver’s license, Perez went literally in circles, stopping only because he was almost out of gas. A guy at the service station recognized him and spotted him a splash of petrol — Pascual had forgotten his wallet, too — and by the time he arrived at the old stadium Phil Niekro was on the mound in his stead.
How will you remember Pascaul Perez?