Weekend honoring Perez begins with fireworks

Statue to be unveiled before Saturday's game at Great American Ball Park

Weekend honoring Perez begins with fireworks

CINCINNATI -- When the members of the Big Red Machine are all assembled, something big must be happening. On Friday night after the Reds' 6-3 loss to the D-backs, it was an opportunity to start the festivities of Tony Perez Weekend that are honoring the Hall of Famer.

Joined by many of his former teammates on the field, Perez, 73, was the center of attention before a fireworks show and video display in his honor. It was a preview of a bigger moment to come on Saturday, when Perez is the latest Reds great to be immortalized with a statue on Crosley Terrace just outside of Great American Ball Park.

Among the players celebrating Perez this weekend are fellow "Great Eight" stars Johnny Bench, Pete Rose, Joe Morgan, Dave Concepcion, George Foster, Ken Griffey Sr. and Cesar Geronimo. Teammates on hand also included Dan Driessen, Jack Billingham, Don Gullett, Doug Flynn, Rawly Eastwick and Pat Darcy.

Mr. Red joins the D-backs' booth

Before the fireworks launched, Flynn moderated a short question and answer session with members of the team for stories about Perez.

Rose on Perez

At 4:30 p.m. ET Saturday, Perez will have his statue dedicated and it will join statues of Bench, Morgan, Ernie Lombardi, Frank Robinson, Joe Nuxhall and Ted Kluszewski.

Perez, Big Red Machine Ceremony

Perez spent 16 of his 23 Major League seasons in Cincinnati (1964-76 and 1984-86) and was an integral part of the Big Red Machine years and the World Series victories in 1975 and 1976. During his career, he batted .279 with 379 home runs and 1,652 RBIs. A corner infielder, he was a seven-time All-Star and a 2000 inductee in to the Hall of Fame.

Reds host Fiesta Rojos

Before Friday's game, Perez was an honorary captain who brought out the lineup card along with Geronimo and Concepcion. It was also to acknowledge the Hispanic players on Fiesta Rojos night.

Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Mark My Word, follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon and Facebook and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.