Best Cincinnati Reds Ever: Tony Perez v. Jim Maloney


First Round Matchup No. 4 Tony Perez v. No. 13 Jim Maloney


Tony Perez was signed by the Cincinnati Reds as an amateur free agent in 1960. Few knew what to expect from the lanky 17-year-old third baseman. But 13 years into his Hall of Fame career, Perez was a seven-time All-Star, had earned MVP votes in six different seasons and was a key member of the back-to-back World Series champion teams in 1975 and 76.

A crucial component of the Big Red Machine of the 70s, Perez had a two-year span from 1969-70 when he combined to hit 77 home runs with 251 RBIs and had a team-leading .317 AVG in 1970. Playing alongside other Reds greats Johnny Bench and Pete Rose, a sensible argument can be made for Perez as the most important player on those teams.

But in 1976, due to an attempt to give Dan Driessen more playing time, the Reds opted to trade the oft-reliable run producer to the then Montreal Expos. Perez’s production diminished and the Reds’ dynasty ended. It wasn’t until 14 years later that the Reds would return to a World Series.

As good as Perez was, playing in the shadows of Bench and Rose kept the the attention — much-deserved attention — away from him. For better or worse, he kept producing. In Perez’s designated page on the Baseball Hall of Fame’s website, former teammate Pat Corrales was quoted as saying:

"“Pete (Rose) would get his 200 hits, and (Johnny) Bench would do his thing. And Tony would get shoved in the background, driving in his 100 runs every year. You’d see it in the notes at the end of the stories in the paper – ‘Oh, by the way, Perez hit a three-run homer to win the game.’”"

Long time Pittsburgh Pirates great Willie Stargell added this about Perez:

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"“With men in scoring position and the game on the line … Tony’s the last guy an opponent wanted to see.”"

That was the type of player Perez was. He always had a case as the best player on his team, but the appreciation was never there. It took him until his ninth ballot (with 77.15 percent of the votes) to be inducted into the Hall of Fame.

He returned to Cincinnati for the final three seasons of his career — as a 42, 43, and 44 year old — and played south of 80 games in each year. But his career statistics with the organization remain eye-popping. He hit 287 HR, 1192 RBI — including six seasons where he drove in 100+ runs — 339 doubles and maintained a .283 AVG. He had six career postseason home runs including three in the 1975 World Series, and 25 RBIs. This also included a two-run bomb in Game 7 that propelled Cincinnati to the series win overcoming a 3-0 deficit.

After being disrespected by the Reds management in 1976 and again a few times thereafter, any hard feelings were mended when the Reds announced a statue, of him hitting a 1975 World Series home run, would be assembled outside Great American Ball Park. It was unveiled toward the end of the 2015 season.

Perez is just one of two players (Ken Griffey Sr.) to win three World Series titles while playing for the Reds. His No. 24 uniform number has been retired by the organization.


Jim Maloney only played until he was 31, his first 11 seasons with the Cincinnati Reds and a final season with the California Angels. But in that decade Maloney was as good as anyone. A rather unknown starting pitcher, Maloney has become known for two things: fast balls and no-hitters.

According to the Reds Hall of Fame, Maloney’s fastest fast ball had been clocked at 99.5 mph. Long time Pirates great Roberto Clemente said the following about Maloney:

"“That fellow could throw as hard as anybody.”"

He has two career no-hitters, a standard nine-inning win and an additional 10-inning no-no where he struck out 12 batters. And plenty of other times Maloney came excitably close to no-hitters. Maloney lost a no-hitter in the 11th inning and carried two separate no-no’s into the seventh inning before being forced to leave due to injuries, according to SABR.

Maloney was a two-time 20-game winner for the Reds and featured a four-year stretch in which he sported a sub-3.00 ERA with 200+ strikeouts. He had 30 career shutouts including a league-leading five in 1966 — a year after his first and only All-Star appearance. He earned MVP votes in three separate seasons and registered a fifth sub-3.00 ERA in 1969, a year before being traded away from Cincinnati.

He didn’t have the postseason success that other Reds greats have had, appearing in just one postseason game — 2/3 of an inning in the 1961 World Series as a 21 year old — but his regular season dominance for a half-decade is unparalleled. Injuries rapidly derailed his career as he turned 30, but with a must-see fastball and no-hit potential every time he toed the rubber, Maloney still stands as one of the greatest pitchers to wear a Reds uniform. Maloney was inducted into the Reds Hall of Fame in 1973.

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