|Tony Perez poses at statue dedication (Eduardo Perez)|
"We had white leaders, black leaders and hispanic leaders," said Johnny Bench the day Tony Perez' statue was unveiled for the public outside Great American Ball Park. "Tony didn't know the difference and moved between the groups."
Perez could have a serious talk with Davey Concepcion when the pair roomed together for six years.
"Tony would talk to me like a father and a brother," Concepcion said.
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"Tony would whisper in your ear," Bench said. "With something like, "Did you hear what Pete said about you?""
Current Reds player Brayan Pena knew about the history of the Cincinnati Reds before he signed with them from following Perez' career from Havana as a boy.
Pena met Perez in 2009 when he defected from Cuba.
"It was a great ceremony," Pena said. "It was a thrill to meet a legend from my country."
Pena was all set to catch the ball Perez threw for the first pitch but at the last minute gave the mitt to Bench.
"Who better to catch it?" Pena asked. "Johnny has been great to me since I signed here."
Perez had dinner with Pena and they talked about the players coming into the United States, with more expected to play here now that diplomatic relations have been restored.
"I know those guys are not free to play baseball like they want to," Perez said. "I'm glad they can come over and play now."
Eduardo Perez, who played for the Reds and five other teams in his 13-year career, attended to honor his father.
From 1985 and 1988 four sons of Perez' teammates were drafted in the first round.
Brian McRae was the first round pick of the Kansas City Royals in 1985.
Lee May Jr. was the first round pick of the New York Mets in 1986.
Ken Griffey Jr. was the first pick of the 1987 draft by Seattle.
Ed Sprague Jr, whose father played with the elder Perez from 1971-73, was the first pick of the Toronto Blue Jays in 1988.
Eduardo was the first round pick of the California Angels.in 1991.
Pedro Borbon Jr. was signed as an undrafted free agent by the Chicago White Sox in 1988. He pitched for nine years with Atlanta, Los Angeles, Toronto, Houston and St. Louis, logging 368 games as a reliever.
Pete Rose Jr.was the 12th round pick of the Baltimore Orioles in 1988 and played in 11 games with the Reds in 1997.
Tommy Helms Jr was drafted by the Chicago Cubs in the 42 round in 1990. Ryan Helms was drafted in the eighth round by the Chicago White Sox but neither son of the Reds' former player, coach and manager played in the Major Leagues.
Professionally edited by ML Schirmer
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