The late Pascual Perez. Mandatory Credit: latino.foxnews.com

Do You Remember: Pascual Perez

Of course you do. Even though he was only a Yankee for two short seasons, Pascual Perez was widely known for his antics, both on, off, and around the diamond.

A lanky pitcher from the Dominican Republic, Perez debuted with the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1980, one year after the “We Are Family” Bucs shocked the Orioles in the World Series. After two starts that year, and a relatively uneventful 1981, Perez was traded to the Atlanta Braves for Larry McWilliams. After a 3.06 ERA in 16 games of 1982, the 25-year-old started Game 1 of the NLCS, and the Braves would lose both the game and the series.

However, Perez quickly became a fan favorite after a driving incident. Scheduled to pitch against the Montreal Expos during the year, the Georgia newbie took a wrong turn for Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium and ended up at a gas station instead. He missed his start, but not his opportunity to make an indelible effect on baseball fans.

Perez emerged as a top starter for the squad the following season. Along with 15 victories and an All-Star selection, Perez struck out 144 batters, who would then be shot by the eccentric pitcher’s invisible smoking pistol. While no special awards would be in order for next season, the Dominican continued his success with a 14-win, 145-strikeout season.

However, cocaine dependency began legal troubles that would destroy his career. Unable to shake his vice, Perez would pitch worse than anybody else during that troubled season, with a pitiful 1-13 record and an ERA hovering over 6. Yikes! With the combination of faltering play and abuse/dependency, Perez was chased from baseball at the age of 29…

Only to come back. With the Montreal Expos in dire need of pitching, Perez was signed to a minor league deal after the 1987 Spring Training. After a 9-7 minor league start, the major league team brought up the pitcher and showman. However, the Expos also brought up lightning in a bottle. Pascual Perez started only 10 games, but went on a tear and won seven consecutive decisions while sporting a 2.30 ERA.

If there was any concern that Perez would relapse, he quelled those fears with two more years in Canada. He won and lost 21 games each, but in fact led the National League in WHIP during the 1988 campaign (.941). Perez even drove in eight runs in 1989, a pleasant surprise for a career .120 hitter.

Perez would wind his career down in New York. He signed on for the 1990 and 1991 seasons, he would only pitch in 17 games, winning just three. Nevertheless, he provided entertainment, whether he was attempting pickoffs between his legs, or hustling to and from the mound. Another cocaine charge earned him a suspension, and with various injuries throughout his career, he was never able to pitch in the majors again. Pascual Perez retired with a 67-68 record, with an ERA of 3.44 across four teams and eleven seasons.

Tragically, Perez was killed on November 1, 2012 during an attempted robbery at his home at the age of 55. Perez kept fans excited for an entire decade with his shenanigans, including his impression of Julio Franco in the Yankee dugout (look it up). I hope heaven loves to be amused, and he will be missed.

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