Perez became eligible for the Hall of Fame in 1992; in '98 he was only 34 votes short of the 75% needed for election. Last January his tally dipped as voters flocked to Nolan Ryan, George Brett and Robin Yount, who all reached the Hall in their first year on the ballot. But now Carlton Fisk, Rich Gossage and Jack Morris are his only strong competition. Perez leads all other eligible non-Hall of Famers as well as many inductees in RBIs and total bases. He had more homers, RBIs, All-Star selections and World Series appearances than Yount. His numbers fall short of the sexy 3,000-hit and 400-homer plateaus, but they are at least as good as those of Orlando Cepeda, who entered the Hall last year after being chosen by the Veterans Committee.
Perez seethed in 1997 when Phil Niekro and Don Sutton got more votes than he did, but this year he has steered clear of the lobbying efforts of supporters, including the Reds, who sent pro-Perez letters on team stationery to voters. The man teammates called Doggie is accustomed to waiting; he'll stay near the phone in his house in Santurce, P.R., hoping this is the year he has his day.
England's Noble Jocks
Before squaring off against British boxing champion Henry Cooper, the 21-year-old Cassius Clay called Cooper "a warmup." Cooper must now call his old foe Muhammad Ali, while Ali should refer to Cooper as Sir Henry.
Last week Cooper, who floored Ali with a vicious left hook in the fourth round of their 1963 bout only to be knocked out in the fifth, joined Formula One racer Stirling Moss as British knights. The honor will be officially bestowed at Buckingham Palace when Queen Elizabeth II—or some other member of the royal family—gives each man a medal and a couple of taps on the shoulder with a sword.
While 1,998 entertainers, humanitarians, businesspeople and other "icons" or "beacons" (the official terms for such honorees) were granted honors including Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE), Officer of the Order (OBE) and Member of the Order (MBE), only 41 worthies earned knighthood last week. They included Cleopatra, Mary Poppins and James Bond, or rather the actors who played them: Dames Liz Taylor and Julie Andrews and Sir Sean Connery.
Cooper, who was British champion for 10 years, went 40-14-1 between 1954 and '71. Moss finished among the top three F/1 drivers for seven straight years. Other honored jocks included golfer Laura Davies (CBE), two-time Olympic decathlon champion Daley Thompson (CBE), Olympic and four-time world champion figure skaters Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean (OBEs) and former world snooker king Steve Davis (OBE). There's no money in the gig, and it carries a lot less distinction than it did in Lancelot's day, but at least England's sporting nobles are faring better than America's sore-kneed Sir Charles.
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