The Royals signed Salvador Perez as a 16-year-old catcher out of Valencia, the third-largest city in Venezuela, in 2006.
Here are five things to know:
1. Giving new meaning to can of corn
Growing up in Valencia on the northern coast of Venezuela, Perez took batting practice from his mother, Yilda Diaz. She would pitch him corn kernels that he’d smack with a broomstick. “She helped me with everything,” Perez told The Star in 2013.
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2. An all-around perfect catch
During his time in the minors, Perez dazzled with his arm (throwing out 42 percent of would-be base stealers). After making his MLB debut on Aug. 10, 2011, he hit .331 in 39 games. It was clear to many the Royals had an All-Star in the making.
3. A hit that changed a city’s fortunes
The 2014 AL Wild Card Game was a 12-inning Greek play. The Royals were making their first playoff appearance since winning the 1985 title. Perez capped one last rally with a two-out RBI single to ignite a run to Game 7 of the World Series.
4. Making a splash in KC
You can’t celebrate a big Royals victory without seeing Perez lurking behind a teammate, waiting to dump the contents of a Gatorade bucket on his head. It’s been honored on billboards, T-shirts and even to reveal a baby’s gender.
5. Shined in both World Series appearances
One year after hitting .333 in the World Series against the Giants, Perez stepped up his game even more in 2015 against the Mets. He earned the MVP award after hitting .364 in five games as the Royals won their first title since 1985.