Rio Grande City native Cesar R. Perez has been selected to the Rio Grande Valley Sports Hall of Fame (RGVSHOF). An induction ceremony is set to be held at the Pharr Events Center on Saturday, June 22.
According to the RGVSHOF website, Perez was one of the Valley's best pitchers in the 1970s at Rio Grande City High School, posting strikeout games of 19, 18 and 16. A four-year starter, he was named to all-district teams twice before graduating in 1975.
He went on to pitch for Texas Southmost College and pitched multiple no-hit games. He helped the Scorpions advance to the NJCAA College World Series in 1977.
After two years at TSC, he moved to Sam Houston State University in 1979, and helped the Bearkats reach the NAIA World Series in 1979. He was drafted by the Philadelphia Phillies and Cincinnati Reds in 1979 and 1980, but never played professionally.
Perez earned a master's degree in finance and eventually graduated from law school at The University of Texas in 1994.
The RGV Sports Hall of Fame is a not-for-profit organization whose mission it is to recognize men and women who have brought honor and recognition to the Rio Grande Valley through their participation in sports as an athlete, coach, official, trainer, journalist or other sports-related position.
The RGV Sports Hall of Fame collects, preserves and exhibits memorabilia, collectibles, and statistical data of Rio Grande Valley sports for historical preservation, database collection, and enjoyment. Some memorabilia is housed at Doubleday’s Bar and Grill’s museum in Port Isabel.
Cesar R. Perez' Full Baseball Biography
Whether Cesar Perez was playing Little League, high school or college baseball, the Rio Grande City native could bring the heat.
Three Hall of Fame Rio Grande Valley umpires, David Mosqueda, Nick Cantu and Bert Lozano, all agreed that Perez was the hardest throwing high school pitcher in South Texas. Lozano said, “His fastball no doubt exceeded 90 mph even though radar guns did not exist at the time”.
Radar guns (used to measure the speed of pitches) gained widespread use in the late 70’s at the time that Perez was in college at Sam Houston University, where his fastball was clocked at 93mph.
Cesar Perez has always reached higher and performed extra tasks in an effort to become better, regardless of whether it involves athletics or academics. His Little League and high school coach Pat Saenz stated, “Cesar was the only player that ran laps after a game, win or lose. His pitching endurance and stamina are proof of his conditioning and a tribute to the ‘ironman’ status that he earned throughout his pitching career”.
Perez credits his cousin and his uncle for taking him to the Little League tryouts in Rio Grande City at the age of 8. Perez did not own a baseball glove, but he was the first player chosen in draft. Ironically, his cousin went on to be his catcher from Little League through high school.
Throughout his childhood years, the running paid dividends as he became a standout fastball pitcher for Rio Grande City (1975), Texas Southmost College (1977), and Sam Houston State University (1979), and participated in two College World Series Championship tournaments.
Perez indicates that a pitcher’s power and stamina mostly comes from the lower body and self-discipline is essential, as there are no shortcuts in running. Even when he threw a no-hitter, a shutout, 19 strike outs, 13 innings, and/or 216 pitches (in one game), he ran his laps.
In addition to being a standout pitcher in high school at Rio Grande City, Perez was the quarterback on the 1972-1975 football teams. He stood 6’3”, 190lbs and wore number 10 in both sports, but opted to play college baseball instead.
Perez is one of many Rio Grande Valley student athletes to come out of high school and enjoy a successful college career in both academics and athletics. He states, “There are many talented Rio Grande Valley student athletes who unfortunately do not attend college. It is incumbent upon our community and school districts to assist that particular talent to attain higher education. The RGV has an untapped wealth of gifted athletes that need to be identified and exposed to college”.
The RGC Rattlers and Perez competed in District 16-3A at a time when the Mercedes Tiger Baseball team made RGV history by earning their way to the state playoffs. The Tigers beat the Rattlers for the district championship. However, a Tiger pitcher, Gilbert Moreno once said, “Perez was a great pitcher who threw smoke”.
When Perez entered high school, RGC did not have enough players for a summer baseball program. The Rigo Rodriguez family from Mission graciously invited him to play and live in Mission. This opportunity offered Perez valuable experience, as he became the starting pitcher for the RGV All-Star Team, and they competed against Corpus and Houston area All-Stars.
During Perez’ Little League and high school career as a pitcher, all of his games resulted in double digit strikeouts. He once struck out 16 Edcouch batters in a one hit game, and four days later, he struck out 18 Falfurrias batters in a no-hitter. In a McAllen tournament, he struck out 43 batters in 18 innings. Against Zapata, he struck out 19 batters in one game, 2 shy of the record of 21 for the state of Texas.
Not only could Perez throw hard, he also attained a reputation for endurance, never leaving a game unfinished or being relieved on the mound. He attributes that feat to the discipline of running and by working the hot summer and long weekend hours at the family ranch and feed store handling 50 pound sacks of cattle feed and hay bales.
Perez was inspired by his mentors: Gustavo Perez (his father, a businessman), Yolanda Munoz Perez (his mother, a housewife) , Coach Pat Saenz (RGC) and Coach Jimmy Dodd (TSC) whose combined discipline influenced Perez’ athletic and academic success and ultimately his career. These mentors influenced Perez to attend two World Series Championship Tournaments, attain 3 university degrees (Economics, Finance and Law) and become a successful RGV banker and attorney.
Gustavo Perez, with only a third grade education, never taught his son Cesar about the game of baseball, but never kept him from competing in sports, even though he was needed at the ranch and feed store. Instead, his father taught him a lesson in the value of a solid day’s work and to reach higher to attain success.
After graduating from RGC in 1975, Perez went to Texas Southmost College on a baseball scholarship to play for Coach Jimmy Dodd. Another teammate was Rigo Rodriguez, who became his roommates. Perez and Rodriguez would face off against each other later, when Perez went to Sam Houston State University and Rodriguez to UTPA. Rodriguez had played against Perez since Little League and knew that he dominated batters at every level when he was on the mound. Rodriguez knew Perez would be bringing the heat, so other teams would always pitch their best against him. There was no doubt that his pitches in high school and college were traveling at 90mph.
Perez indicates that when he arrived at TSC, he knew all of the baseball players because most of them were from the RGV, and they had all played against each other in high school. The team consisted of 17 players, but they were very close knit, and to this day, they remain good friends. Coach Dodd taught them the fundamentals of baseball, finished the year at 29-7 and took them to the Junior College World Series. He himself was a state championship player and coach, as well as an All-American in college, having participated in the College World Series in the mid 60’s.
Known as a “work horse” on the mound, Perez relied on his fastball, and even his opponents knew what was coming. He exhibited a unique quality – endurance. At TSC, he threw 2 no-hitters and multiple one-hit games. He once pitched 13 innings, 18 strike outs and 216 pitches in the same game.
In 1977, he led the Scorpions to the Junior College World Series in Colorado. To get there, TSC won 6 post season games. During a 4 day Regional Tournament at the Texas Longhorn Stadium, they defeated 4 Texas teams, all of which were nationally ranked. Then they swept another team in the SE USA series to earn their spot in the Junior College World Series held in Colorado.
“That group of kids was exceptional” said Coach Dodd. “They always pushed each other to do more than was expected. There were never any discipline problems as Cesar Perez saw to that. He was a natural leader, a good player and a great person. The players looked up to him for leadership and guidance. They called him ‘El Jefe’ and what he said, they did”’.
Coach Dodd pointed out that when the Scorpions played and beat San Jacinto (ranked #1 in the USA), they had 16 pitchers on their roster, most of whom were pro prospects. TSC only had a total of 17 players on the entire team.
To go 4-0 in Austin required an “ironman” effort from Cesar Perez. In the 4 day regional tournament, he started and finished 2 nine inning games and relieved 2 others. He pitched a total of 24 innings. Coach Dodd stated, “Cesar pitched just about every inning in that tournament in a span of a few days”.
TRANSITION to ACADEMICS
From TSC, Perez went to Sam Houston State University and helped the Bearkat baseball team reach the NAIA World Series in 1979. Even though Perez was drafted by the Philadelphia Phillies and Cincinnati Reds, Perez opted to focus on his academics and pursue a higher education. He attained a Bachelor’s Degree in Economics and a Masters in Finance, earning a 3.5 GPA.
After graduation, Perez went on to work for the Federal Land Bank in 1983 where he rapidly earned his way up from Loan Officer Trainee to Chief Executive Officer of the bank in 5 years. In 1990, he decided to take on another challenge — Law School at the University of Texas. He graduated in 1994 as a Fulbright Scholar, and has worked in Corpus, Houston, San Antonio and currently enjoys a successful law practice in the Rio Grande Valley.
Perez says, “I have always strived to do more than is expected of me, whether it is in athletics, baseball, academics, or law. If you push yourself to do more and put in the time and effort, you will attain more and achievement will be right around the corner. Success will find you…eventually, just a matter of time”.
Perez is currently a highly regarded attorney with offices in San Antonio and the Rio Grande Valley. He has earned recognition as a Top Houston Attorney (2005), 4 Time Top 10 Texas Verdicts, and Texas Top 10% Lawyer (2015 and 2017). He was inducted into the RGV Baseball Hall of Fame in 2015 as a player, and as a member of the TSC Scorpions in 2017.
Cesar resides in Palmhurst with his wife, Ofelia, and two children, Rebekah and Ricardo. He continues to run and to strive for improvement and success on a daily basis.