Alonzo Thomas Perry
(His Majesty, El Espiriton)
- Bats Both, Throws Right
- Height 6' 3", Weight 190 lb.
Alonzo Perry was one of the biggest stars in the history of the Mexican League and Dominican League but never was as prominent in the US. He won four RBI titles in Mexico and led the Dominican League in homers twice, average twice and steals once.
Perry started as a pitcher, noted for his curveball. He debuted with the low-level Atlanta Black Crackers in 1945 and moved to the Homestead Grays the next year, going 2-2 before leaving due to a contract dispute. He was picked up by his hometown Birmingham Black Barons and went 1-2 for them in 1947.
In 1948, at age 25, Perry went 10-2 with a 4.73 ERA. He tied Ford Smith for 4th in the Negro American League in wins and led in winning percentage. He also hit .325 as he was the regular first baseman when he did not pitch. In the playoffs, he beat Smith in game two to help Birmingham defeat the Kansas City Monarchs. He was 12-4 with a 3.45 ERA a year later. One anecdote says that scouts went to see Perry play and they signed Willie Mays at the same time; the veracity of this is questionable as Perry debuted in Organized Baseball in 1949, a year before Mays and in a different organization.
In the 1949 Caribbean Series, Perry tied Sad Sam Jones for the lead in strikeouts (10); he was 0-1, though, thanks to 11 walks in 15 innings for Mayaguez. He did hit .333 as the team's starting first baseman.
Minor leagues and last Negro League stint
Perry did not last long in his 1949 stint with the Oakland Oaks. He pitched eight games, going 0-1 with a 4.91 ERA, with 20 walks in 33 innings, and went 3 for 15 with 3 walks at the plate.
He returned to the Negro Leagues in 1950, now as a full-time infielder. He hit .313 with 14 homers for Birmingham and was the starting 1B for the West in the 1950 East-West Game, hitting 3rd. Alonzo went 2 for 3 with an RBI in the West's 5-3 win that game.
In 1951, Perry got his second look at the minor leagues but again it was an abbreviated one. He played 9 games for the Syracuse Chiefs, going 5 for 18 with 3 runs and 3 RBI. His .278 average was much better than starter Eddie Shokes's .237 at first.
It is unclear where Perry played from 1952-1954. James Riley notes that Perry was often in trouble with the law and possibly spent time in jail. Additionally, Perry played in the unaffiliated Manitoba-Dakota League, a haven for former Negro League players, so that might have been where he was during this period.
Dominican League star
In the Dominican League from 1952-1959, Perry posted averages of .327, .293, .336 (leading the league), .325, .252, .332 (another title) and .270. All but one of the seasons were with Licey. Perry won home run titles in 1952 and 1953 and led in steals in 1954. In 1957, he won the batting championship over many big leaguers, including Felipe Alou. His 53 RBI in 1953 were a Licey record for the 20th Century, as was his .488 slugging percentage for someone with 1,000+ AB. His .317 average ranks second all-time on Licey, 29 points behind leader Manny Mota but 9 ahead of #3 Jesus Alou. His 45 home runs also are a team record. Perry's number 5 is retired by Licey.
Mexican League star
Perry came to Mexico at age 32 but the hitter with the coiled crouch became a star for 7 years there.
Alonzo debuted in Mexico with the 1955 Mexico City Red Devils, batting .375/~.457/.696 with 15 triples, 21 home runs, 76 runs and a whopping 122 RBI in 92 games. He drew 53 walks while only striking out 23 times. He led the Mexican League in batting average and triples. Perry was just the second Mexican League player to top 108 RBI, joining Josh Gibson's 1941 record of 124.
In 1956, Perry batted .392/~.496/.710 with 103 runs, 33 doubles, 13 triples, 28 home runs and 118 RBI in 123 games. He led the league in average, hits (177), triples, homers and RBI in an amazing display of talent. He tied Leo Rodríguez for the lead in doubles. He won the fifth Triple Crown in Liga annals, following Cool Papa Bell, Wild Bill Wright, Angel Castro and Rene Gonzalez, but Perry's would be the last until Ty Gainey 39 years later.
The next year, he "slipped" to .352/~.427/.588 with 96 runs, 22 HR, 107 RBI and 15 steals. He won his third straight RBI title and led with 32 doubles and 164 his. In 1958, Perry's batting line was .365/~.449/.614 with a great 61 K:18 BB ratio. For the first time, he failed to lead the Mexican League in anything. He was six points behind Pablo Bernard in average and added 22 homers and 93 runs. In 1959, the veteran batted .333/~.404/.514 with 93 runs and 94 RBI. His power production fell as he only had 12 home runs; despite his age, he had 9 triples.
No record can be found of Perry playing anywhere in 1960-1961. In 1962, he joined the Monterrey Sultans and hit .318/~.398/.502 wityh 91 runs, 16 homers and 105 RBI. Now 39 years old, he still tied the legendary Hector Espino for the lead in RBI, giving him his 4th title in Mexico. Only Angel Castro had previously won four RBI titles in La Liga Mexicana.
In his final season, 1963, Alonzo hit .353/~.421/.534 with 96 runs, 90 RBI and 17 home runs for Monterrey. Only Chico Garcia and Alfred Pinkston posted higher averages than the old-timer in his fine curtain call.
Overall, Perry hit .355/~.433/.589 with 648 runs, 138 homers and 721 RBI in 832 Mexican League games. Among players with 3,000+ AB in Mexico, Perry ranks 2nd in average, behind Pinkston, a fellow Negro League veteran who had his best days south of the border.
Perry was known for his storytelling abilities.
Licey Tigers site, The Mexican League: Comprehensive Player Statistics by Pedro Treto Cisneros, 1949 PCL season for Diamond Mind Baseball by Stephen Davis, The International League: Year-by-Year Statistics by Marshall Wright, Cuban Baseball: A Statistical History by Jorge Figueredo, The Biographical Encyclopedia of the Negro Baseball Leagues by James Riley, The Complete Book of Baseball's Negro Leagues by John Holway, Black Baseball's National Showcase by Larry Lester