Hidalgo thriving in New York

The Mets took a chance on the enigmatic Richard Hidalgo. The payoff has been immediate and pronounced.

Originally Published: July 7, 2004
By Jerry Crasnick | ESPN Insider
It's no surprise that Mets manager Art Howe is a connoisseur of No. 5 hitter attributes, given that he spent so much time this season in the futile search for one. When Howe envisions the ideal five-hole guy, no one in the past 35 years fits the description better than Tony Perez of the Cincinnati Reds.

"He was an RBI machine,'' Howe said. "Every year, 90-plus. You knew he was lurking, and you had to make quality pitches to the two guys in front of him. Whatever was left on, he cleaned up. He just had that knack for driving in runs.''

Perez, who drove in 1,652 runs in the majors and surpassed 90 RBI 12 times when it actually meant something, went by the nickname "Doggie.'' It was an offshoot of the "Big Dog,'' a term of endearment given him by former Cincinnati manager Dave Bristol and embraced by his teammates.

Jerry Crasnick

ESPN Senior Writer