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Perez unlikely hero during Phils' 100th anniversary

When it came time to celebrate the Phillies' 100th anniversary, one of the oldest players on the team stole the spotlight.

Forty-year-old first baseman Tony Perez had a single, double, home run and drove in five in an 11-3 romp over the Houston Astros on a Sunday afternoon at Veterans Stadium on May 1, 1983. The big game boosted his average to .391. Manager Paul Owens started Perez that day and moved Pete Rose to right field against Houston lefty starter Bob Knepper.

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The five RBIs are the most for a Phillies player on May 1 of any year. Frank Parkinson and Cy Williams each drove in four runs in the 12-10 loss to the Boston Braves on May 1, 1923.

Larry Christenson (1-2) picked up the win during that 1983 game vs. the Astros. He allowed one run on three hits in seven innings. He won one more game after this and then had his career end with reconstructive elbow surgeries the same summer, one in June and a second one in July.

John Enzmann, then the oldest living former Phillie at 93, threw out the ceremonial first pitch that day.

With the win, the Phillies were 12-7 and tied for first place in the National League East. It was fitting that a team of veterans -- nicknamed the "Wheeze Kids" by Philadelphia Daily News writer Stan Hochman -- would go on to the pennant in the franchise's 100th year.

The Phillies had designed a special logo to commemorate 100 years. It was used throughout the 1983 season.

Special baseballs were designed specifically for the 100th anniversary game. One of the game balls was donated to the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

Including 1883, the Phillies have gone 3-9 on May 1 of years ending in three. Twice they weren't scheduled. Oddly, all were home games until the past three -- 1993, 2003 and Wednesday.

First game
History shows the Phillies dropped their inaugural game to the Providence Grays, 4-3, at Recreation Park, located at 24th and Columbia Avenues. The crowd was an estimated 1,200. Time of game: One hour and 30 minutes.

The Grays scored four in the eighth to win. According to the Philadelphia Inquirer game story of May 2, "The fielding was good on both sides, but the batting was weak." According to the box score, each team had six hits. The Grays had five errors, the Phillies three.

The Phillies' first win came after eight losses, on May 14, 12-1, in Chicago.

Larry Shenk is the vice president of Alumni Relations for the Phillies. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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