He was long removed from the halcyon days 29 years ago. Alone is his modest home in the Dominican Republic, former Braves starting pitcher Pascual Perez met a tragic end.
According to Dominican news reports, confirmed by the Associated Press and MLB, Perez was killed in his home early Thursday during a robbery. The cause of death has not been verified. One Dominican news source states that he was stabbed to death while another stated that he had a fractured skull from a blow to the head.
Perez’s ex-wife Maritza Montero found his body about 8:30 a.m. Thursday and investigators said he appeared to have been slain about eight hours earlier.
The rangy right-hander will always be remembered by Braves fans as “Perimeter” Perez, the enthusiastic youngster who missed a start because he got lost on the I-285 perimeter surrounding Atlanta. He later admitted to circling the city several times in search of the stadium, which was nowhere near that stretch of interstate.
Perez went 15-8 for the Braves and was voted onto the All Star roster in 1983. But struggles with drugs dampened an otherwise promising career. He missed the first month of the 1984 season after being arrested in his home country on cocaine changes, and he was suspended from baseball in 1992 after testing positive twice for cocaine.
No suspects had been identified by mid-afternoon Thursday.
Perez played for a total of four teams: the Pirates, Braves, Expos and Yankees in a stop-and-start career that lasted 11 years. His unbridled enthusiasm and unique pick-off move made him a fan favorite. And while he finished his career with an overall losing record of 67-68, Braves fans remember ’83 and ’84 when he went 29-16, baffling hitters with a killer fastball that he could follow with an off-speed breaker that looked like it fell off a table.
After his I-285 episode, a game where Phil Neikro stepped in for the AWOL pitcher, Perez wore “Perimeter” on his jersey for several games. He was also famous for the goofy faces he would make when posing for his baseball cards, which have become novelty items for collectors.