from my sketchbook: pascual pérez

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on the outside looking in

Pascual Pérez wasn’t a great pitcher, but he certainly was an interesting one. After a brief stint with the Pittsburgh Pirates, Pascual was traded to the Atlanta Braves. He had two consecutive career seasons, winning fifteen games in 1983 and fourteen games in 1984, despite joining the team after an arrest in his native Dominican Republic for cocaine possession.

Pascual was a character on the field. Cutting quite a figure, with his gold chains and stylish Jheri-curls, he would often grind his baseballs into the dirt until sufficiently coated to his liking. He would rile opposing hitters by shooting them with an imaginary “finger gun,” as they stood at the plate. After an inning-ending strikeout, Pascual would run full speed to the dugout, as his team mates casually jogged in from their positions.

His unique “pick-off” move, keeping a runner from a potential stolen base, was legendary. Instead of sneaking a glance, as most pitchers are known to do, Pascual would bend over and eye the runner from between his legs. Sometimes, even throwing the ball to the fielder from between his legs. He also perfected the eephus pitch, a batter-baffling off-speed toss that was likened to the one used by Bugs Bunny against the Gashouse Gorillas in the cartoon Baseball Bugs.

His off-field antics were just as memorable. He missed a start in August 1982, when he got lost on Atlanta’s Interstate 285, a beltway that skirted Fulton County Stadium. He drove in circles for two hours looking for an exit ramp, until he eventually ran out of gas. He earned himself the nickname “Perimeter Pascual.”

He was released by the Braves and sat out the entire 1986 season. He joined the Montréal Expos midway through the ’87 season, where he threw a rain-shortened no-hitter in Philadelphia’s Veterans Stadium. Free agency brought Pascual to the New York Yankees. He never quite found his groove. After 17 starts and a losing record,  a violation of league drug policy ended his career.

In November 2012, 55-year old Pascual was found dead in his home in the Dominican Republic. He had been beaten to death with a hammer during a robbery.



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