The Big Red Machine's presence in Cooperstown got a lot bigger on Sunday when Tony Perez and Sparky Anderson were inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame alongside World Series nemesis Carlton Fisk.
"There seem to be a lot of guys up here that I played against in '75," said Fisk, who hit a game-winning homer in the 12th inning of Game 6 only to see Perez homer in Game 7 to deliver the Series to the Reds.
"As happy as I was in the sixth game, I was happy for him (Perez) in the seventh game," Fisk said after the ceremony. "But I don't think I was too happy back in 1975."
Reds announcer Marty Brennaman was enshrined in the broadcaster's wing on Sunday, commemorating a 26-year career in which he celebrated Cincinnati victories by proclaiming, "And this one belongs to the Reds."
And during the Reds' consecutive World Series titles in 1975-76, he said it an awful lot.
"I got good players, stayed out of their way, let them win a lot and then just hung around for 26 years," said Anderson, the only manager to win it all in both leagues. "I was smart enough to know the people that were doing the work, and I could never thank them (enough) for what they did for me."
Perez and Anderson join Cincinnati teammates Joe Morgan and Johnny Bench in the Hall. All-time hit king Pete Rose is ineligible, having been banned from baseball for gambling; that explains why commissioner Bud Selig was greeted with boos and chants of "We want Pete!"
Perez, Anderson and Brennaman all said they thought Rose deserved to be in the Hall. But Anderson also defended Selig.
"Commissioners make mistakes they're human beings," the 66-year-old manager said. "But nobody loves the game of baseball more than this commissioner."
Also honored Sunday were "Gloveless Wonder" Bid McPhee, a 19th century second baseman for Cincinnati who was the last player to play without a glove, and Negro League star Norm "Turkey" Stearnes.
An 11-time All-Star, Fisk caught more games 2,229 than anyone in baseball history, and hit a record 351 of his 376 homers as a catcher. He was elected in his second year of eligibility with 79.56 percent of the votes.
"His gritty resolve and competitive fire earned him the respect of teammates and opposing players alike," his plaque reads. "His dramatic home run to win Game 6 of the 1975 World Series is one of baseball's unforgettable moments."
Anderson also won a championship in 1984 with the Detroit Tigers and 2,194 games in all third most in history behind Connie Mack and John McGraw. His .691 postseason winning percentage (34-21) is the best ever.
"The crank that turned the Big Red Machine, his skillful leadership helped those Cincinnati teams dominate in the 1970s," his plaque says. "(He was) revered and treasured by his players for hi humility, humanity, eternal optimism and knowledge of the game."
Perez drove in at least 90 runs in 11 consecutive seasons from 1967-77. He finished with 1,652 RBIs, which ranks 18th, hit 379 homers and batted .279 while also playing for Boston, Philadelphia and Montreal.
"He tormented the opposition with his ability to consistently drive in runs," says his plaque. "A catalyst of Cincinnati's talented Big Red Machine teams during the 1970s, his subtle leadership and timely hitting helped pace those clubs to five division titles, four pennants and two World Series championships."
Perez fell short of election eight times before making it this winter with 77.15 percent of the vote. Going in with Anderson made the wait worthwhile, he said.
"I think they made me wait so long so that we could be inducted together," said Perez, a native Cuban who gave part of his speech in Spanish and even threw in a "merci beaucoup" as a nod to his playing days in Montreal.
"I doubt that a king on his coronation feels better than me today."
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