If you are into “what if” scenarios in history, this one is particularly intriguing for Royals fans.
While Royals Hall of Famer George Brett was opening a pack of baseball cards from 1985 as part of a Yahoo Sports series, he revealed an interesting tidbit.
Brett found a Tony Perez card, and in 1985, Perez was back with Cincinnati, where he began and finished his career. There were stops in Montreal, Boston and Philadelphia in between Perez’s time with the Reds.
Perez also almost played for the Royals, Brett noted.
“In 1974, I almost got traded for him. I was living in Los Angeles and going to junior college for one year,” Brett told Yahoo’s Mike Oz. “Thought I’d try school and see if I was any better at it in junior college than I was in high school. I wasn’t.
“But there was an article in the Daily Breeze, the local newspaper, saying at the winter meetings that the Royals and the Reds were going to make a trade: George Brett for Tony Perez. Never happened. And now we’re both in the Hall of Fame.”
It may have just been a rumor in 1974, but had the trade happened, things likely would have been much different for the Royals.
Brett was just 21 at that time. He went on to be the cornerstone for a Royals team that won seven division titles, two AL pennants and a World Series championship in an 10-year span. He finished with 3,154 hits, 665 doubles, 317 home runs and an .857 on-base-plus-slugging percentage. Brett was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1999.
Perez was 32 at the time, playing first base and coming off his fifth All-Star Game appearance, but the Reds had missed the playoffs after being in the 1970 and 1972 World Series.
Cincinnati didn’t trade Perez that winter and he hit four home runs in the playoffs in 1975 as the Reds won an epic World Series against the Red Sox. Perez again started for the Reds when they won the 1976 World Series against the Yankees.
In 2000, Perez was voted into the Hall of Fame.
How might things have changed had the Royals and Reds swung that trade in 1974? It’s impossible to know, except for one thing: A lot fewer kids born in and around Kansas City would have been named Brett.
UPDATE: The Star’s Rustin Dodd unearthed a report from the Cincinnati Enquirer, which says the Royals were never interested in dealing Brett.