Gaspar Pérez

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Gaspar Pérez Guerra (El Curro)

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Gaspar Pérez was a top Cuban pitcher of the 1960s.

Pérez first made the Cuban Serie Nacional leader list in 1964-1965 when he paced the circuit in shutouts (3), sacrifice hits (7), wins (6, tied with Maximiliano Reyes), walks (58) and hit batsmen (6, tied with Julio Rojo, Jr.). With the Henequeneros in 1965-1966, he led in victories (11), walks (62) and batters plunked (7). In the 1966 Central American and Caribbean Games, he was 1-1 with a 0.00 ERA and went 1 for 5 at the plate as the Cuban national team won the Gold. His only loss was a 1-0 decision to Venezuela which came on an error by Pérez.

Moving to the Centrales in 1966-1967, the 23-year-old from Matanzas led again in walks (54) as well as intentional walks (15) and hit batters (6, tied with Florentino Alfonso). He had a 2.70 ERA in the 1967 Pan American Games, when Cuba got a Silver Medal. In 1967-1968, El Curro set a Serie Nacional record for innings pitched (212 2/3) as well as for complete games (18) and hits allowed (164). He also and hit the most batters, 14. He was now with the Granjeros. All three of his records would last just a year before Emilio Salgado broke his innings and hits marks; Salgado and Roberto Valdés both broke the complete game mark.

In 1968-1969, Gaspar (back with the Henequeneros) set a record with 127 walks; his 13 intentional walks tied Lázaro Santana for the lead. The right-hander had his best performance in the 1969 Amateur World Series. He went 4-0 with a 0.35 ERA and was 6 for 11 at the plate. He led the event in wins and ERA. In the finale, he beat Team USA and drove in the winning run as well as pitching a gem. He was named Amateur World Series MVP. Though Wilfredo Sánchez was Serie Nacional MVP in 1968-1969, Pérez was named Cuba's Athlete of the Year, the first baseball player to be so honored. He hit 13 batters in 1969-1970 to lead the league, his last time leading in any department. In the 1970 Central American and Caribbean Games, he was 1-0 with a 0.96 ERA as Cuba won Gold; at the plate, he was 0 for 4.

Overall, he was 76-63 with a 2.62 ERA and .220 opponent average in domestic competition. He walked 562 in 1,072 2/3 innings, threw 62 wild pitches and hit 83 batters as control was his weak spot. He pitched 222 games (106 starts). A good hitter for a pitcher, he batted .258/.322/.378 with 8 home runs in 473 at-bats. He played 53 games in which he did not pitch. In international events, he had a 9-1, 1.12 record; as indicated above, the only loss was due to his defense more than his pitching.