Globe iconLogin iconRecap iconSearch iconTickets icon

news

MLB News

Hall of Famer Perez eager to honor Jackie

With Robinson Day on Tuesday, Miami special assistant reflects on legend
MLB.com

PHILADELPHIA -- The 1970 All-Star Game in Cincinnati is widely remembered for Pete Rose's vicious collision at home plate with catcher Ray Fosse. The overly aggressive play is one of the most talked about in the history of the Midsummer Classic.

To Tony Perez, the National League's starting first baseman that July 14 day, the event is also memorable for another reason. A special guest was at Riverfront Stadium that day.

Full Game Coverage

PHILADELPHIA -- The 1970 All-Star Game in Cincinnati is widely remembered for Pete Rose's vicious collision at home plate with catcher Ray Fosse. The overly aggressive play is one of the most talked about in the history of the Midsummer Classic.

To Tony Perez, the National League's starting first baseman that July 14 day, the event is also memorable for another reason. A special guest was at Riverfront Stadium that day.

Full Game Coverage

Jackie Robinson was recognized before the game, and Perez -- like the rest of the All-Stars -- had a chance to meet and thank the legend.

"I never thought I would meet him," said Perez, a longtime Marlins special assistant. "But I was able to meet him before he passed away.

"All the players, especially black and Latin players, were happy to have a chance to meet him."

Robinson broke MLB's color barrier on April 15, 1947, and each year on the anniversary of the occasion, the league pays tribute.

Perez, a Hall of Famer who was born in Cuba, was a month away from turning 5 years old when Robinson first played for the Brooklyn Dodgers. He recalls as a young child his father rooting for the Dodgers and cheering for Robinson.

"You never forget," Perez said. "Every year, we remember him and honor him, which I think is great because he deserved it. He went through so many things to get us here."

Jackie Robinson Night will be celebrated at Marlins Park on Tuesday, prior to the Marlins facing the Nationals. Before the game, the Marlins Foundation will present a scholarship check of $4,200 to the Jackie Robinson Foundation.

Additionally, 5000 Role Models of Excellence Project, a local nonprofit organization, will have 50 of their top scholars at the game to present their favorite Jackie Robinson value.

On Jackie Robinson Night, all MLB players sport the No. 42 in tribute to Robinson.

"The day means a lot," Perez said. "I remember when I was a kid, I was almost 5 years old when he broke the barrier. I remember my father talking about him. He was a Brooklyn Dodgers fan and he followed Jackie Robinson."

Joe Frisaro is a reporter for MLB.com. He writes a blog, called The Fish Pond. Follow him on Twitter Miami Marlins