By Chris Strauss, USA TODAY Sports
He'll never be remembered as one of the greatest pitchers of his era, but when it came to amazing baseball characters in the 1980s, Pascual Perez was one of a kind. The 55-year-old Perez, who compiled a 67-68 record for four teams in an 11-year major league career, waskilled in an armed robberyat his Dominican Republic home Thursday, reportedly just a day after receiving his MLB pension check.
Here are four things we'll remember the most about Perez.
1) The amazing baseball card photos
As a baseball card obsessed kid in the mid 80s, Perez's goofy expressions and long jheri curls first caught my attention in the random packs of Topps or Donruss cards my dad would pick up for me at 7-11 on his way home from work. In an era ofbizarre looking baseball cards, Perez's various styles were among the best. Check out our below gallery of his cards through the years.
2) His lack of navigational skills
In his first season with the Atlanta Braves in 1982, Perez missed a start because he spent two hours circling Atlanta on Interstate 285 looking for the exit ramp for Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium. Perez had already pitched in two home games with the team so clearly he had found his way to his home ballpark previously. "There's a big radio and the merengue music was real loud." he toldSports Illustrated in a 1990 featureon Perez and his four baseball playing siblings. "I forgot my wallet, so I have no money and no license. I pass around the city two times easy, but the car so hot I stop at a gas station. I ask for $10 worth, and the guy say, 'You Pascual Perez? People been waiting for you at the stadium." I'm 20 minutes away, he tell me. I feel like a heart attack. I think I get fired, maybe. Boss Torre say he fine me $100. I say, 'What you say, $100?' He smile, say, 'Ciento pesos' I smile. Ciento pesos worth only 10 bucks."
3) His role in the epic 1984 Padres-Braves brawl
As thisMLB.com video details, this series of three in-game fights still remains a contender for the craziest brawl in baseball history. It all began when Perez drilled Padres leadoff hitter Alan Wiggins with the first pitch of the August 12 game and escalated as the Padres threw at Perez all four times he came to bat during the game. At one point Perez picks up a bat and wields it at the Padres catcher. Nineteen players and coaches were ejected and several fans were arrested by the time the game was over.
4) His unique pickoff move
Described in the Sports Illustrated feature as prowling "the mound like a restless hyena," Perez developed a unique method for keeping baserunners close to the bag. Taking advantage of his lanky frame, Perez would check runners by bending over and peeking through his legs, often throwing the ball between them with his pickoff throw. Perez also developed his own version of the Eephus pitch, a slow, extremely high-arching changeup that was renamed "the Pascual pitch" when he threw it.