I remember last year watching an episode of FSN’s ‘Inside the Marlins’ about Tony Perez working with the organization and how much of a saint he was for his working with kids on baseball instruction. While I was not very familiar with Perez, a Hall of Fame slugger who retired before I began watching baseball, I was excited to see him at the 2009 Marlins Fan Fest.
What I witnessed that day was a grumpy, old man who turned down every possible fan’s request for an autograph. Despite my disappointment, I let it slide thinking maybe he was having a bad day. Today, while attending Spring Training workouts with the Marlins I witnessed something that was both ridiculous and truly pathetic.
While waiting to snag an autograph from Cody Ross, Tony Perez walked past me and starting making his way to another field. I had a card of him with me but did not even bother trying to get his autograph. Unfortunately, some kid next to me, who could not have been a day over 7 years old ran up to Perez and asked for his autograph.
Rather than turn around and acknowledge the young baseball fan, Perez loudly growled in anger, grabbed the baseball from the kid, signed, and walked away without even hearing the kid’s “thank you, sir”. What’s even worse is that unlike Fredi Gonzalez, the Marlins’ manager, no one was really going after any of the coaching staff for autographs or photos.
Hanley Ramirez, Dan Uggla, and others were getting swamped with requests all day long but here was one little boy asking for an autograph and rather than be proud or even happy to make a fan’s day, he was a complete, bitter asshole.
Of course, the kid took it in stride and continued chasing down players for his team ball but when another adult saw what happened he went up to the kid’s dad and told him Tony had also growled at him but instead of signing, he flat out turned him down and told him that he was too busy.
Thank goodness for Fredi Gonzalez, who not only signed every thing imaginable for fans but he also posed for what seemed like hundreds of photographs and was a complete class-act all the way. Maybe Tony could pick up a few pointers from Fredi on how to treat baseball fans.