By: Mike Skarka
It has been a breakout year for ESPN MLB analyst Eduardo Pérez. His 2016 season saw him join the Monday Night Baseball booth, be a part of Baseball Tonight at the National League Wild Card Game and World Series and distinguish himself by contributing thoughtful perspective to several high-profile baseball stories this year.
Pérez, along with analyst Doug Glanville and play-by-play commentator Karl Ravech, called the first MLB game from Cuba since 1999. He was also tasked with covering the story of Miami Marlins star José Fernández’s passing. Their close relationship resulted in very meaningful reports that touched many involved with the situation and beyond.
Front Row recently spoke with Pérez to hear his thoughts on the season and what he’s looking forward to next year.
What was the highlight of your first season in the Monday Night Baseball booth?
To be teamed up with so many talented people and be a part of the Monday Night Baseball family was phenomenal. It was a very fulfilling year to see things in a different light. Seeing the progression of the players, like [2016 NL Rookie Of The Year] Corey Seager, from the beginning of the season in April all the way through the pennant drive was fascinating.
Describe what it means to you to call unique events, like the exhibition game in Cuba.
It was an emotional trip in many aspects. Being able to see my family, working in an environment where not a lot of us are comfortable working in. We knew we had a job to do to portray the real side of baseball and Cuba. To be able to interview the President of the United States and sit next to the leader of the free world in a world that really isn’t free. To be able to ask him the questions on behalf of my cousins still living in Cuba about what the future holds. There were just so many different emotional experiences.
Describe your process when covering difficult stories like José Fernández.
It’s a story that definitely touched my heart because I was close to him and his family. I had to tell my father [Baseball Hall of Famer Tony Perez] about it and I think that was where it really touched home. It was tough, but I think we have a responsibility in this line of work not only celebrate the life that he had, but to teach the future generation that it doesn’t matter who you are, we are all vulnerable in many different ways. He’s one that has touched many people here in Miami.
What are you looking forward to in the 2017 season?
The experience. What’s the beauty of baseball? You’re going to see something you’ve never seen before. You have the potential every day to see history and it doesn’t necessarily have to come from that superstar player. To be able to see and experience it and tell the stories to our fan base, I think that’s what the beauty of the sport is all about.