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CNN Today

Carlton Fisk, Tony Perez Elected to Baseball Hall of Fame

Aired January 12, 2000 - 1:25 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

LOU WATERS, CNN ANCHOR: Another member of the Big Red Machine is going into baseball's Hall of Fame, along with the hardest-hitting, longest-playing catcher in Major League Baseball history. Baseball writers have voted to enshrine Tony Perez and Carlton Fisk.

Nick Charles of CNN Sports Illustrated looks at their careers.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

NICK CHARLES, CNNSI CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Carlton Fisk's place in baseball history has been secure since 1975 when his dramatic 12th-inning homerun powered the Boston Red Sox past the Cincinnati Reds in Game 6 of the World Series. His climactic trip around the bases is for millions the pure definition of baseball joy. But for Fisk, his journey to Cooperstown will be just as thrilling.

CARLTON FISK, BASEBALL HALL OF FAMER: Being part of this moment, there's just -- it's just hard to fathom and hard to realize that it actually has happened. Yet it hasn't -- I don't know if it's really sunk in yet. Everybody in my family and everybody that had anything to do with my career knew that I gave everything I had to the game; and not just necessarily that game, but to the game, and I feel very proud that I was a giver and not a taker.

CHARLES: Fisk was an 11-time all-star and caught more games than any player ever. His 351 home runs while catching is also a major league record; and his 24 years behind the plate is the most in American League history.

He broke in with Boston, was a Rookie of the Year in 1972, and played 11 seasons for the Red Sox. Fisk, though, actually spent the majority of his career in Chicago playing 13 years for the White Sox. Which hat, then, will he wear to Cooperstown?

FISK: All I know is that the only insignia that really is important here is the HOF. It's not anything else that you wear on your hat. It -- I don't think you get inducted into the Hall of Fame with respect to what hat you wear, it's with respect to what you -- how you played and the torch you carried. And I believe that I did that. I'd like to be able to wear both hats.

CHARLES: While Fisk's greatest moment came in Game 6 of the '75 series, one of Tony Perez's most important hits came the next day when his homerun in Game 7 helped the Reds win the championship. This was his ninth attempt to get into Cooperstown, and finally he got there.

TONY PEREZ, BASEBALL HALL OF FAMER: All these years, I've been waiting. Now it doesn't matter now. I'm in and that's all that counts, and those nine years, or eight years, are behind me.

CHARLES: Perez was often overshadowed by Big Red Machine teammates Pete Rose, Johnny Bench and Joe Morgan. Yet many call him the heart of the group which won four National League pennants and two world championships '70s. He was considered one of the most clutch hitters of his time. And in the 20 year span between 1965 and '84, no player had more RBIs than Tony Perez.

JOHNNY BENCH, PEREZ TEAMMATE: It's just the most wonderful day because of the wonderful man that Tony Perez was, and the ballplayer that he was, and what he meant to the Cincinnati Reds, what he meant to me, what he meant to every player on that team. And whether it be with the Reds or other teams, but I know how special it was for us.

CHARLES: Among the candidates who didn't get in, Jim Rice made the best showing. In his seventh year on the ballot, the 1978 American League MVP finished with 257 votes, 111 more than he did last year. Catcher Gary Carter also increased his vote total from 168 to 248 and finished fourth in voting.

Next year, though, the competition gets even tougher. Players appearing on the Hall of Fame ballot for the first time include Dave Winfield, Twin superstar Kirby Puckett and Don Mattingly.

I'm Nick Charles.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: And you know Carlton Fisk: He's also a great person, you say.

WATERS: He's a wonderful man, he's a wonderful golfer, giving his all for golf now. And we want to offer our congratulations to both Carlton and Tony Perez. Great job.

TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com

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