Pascual Perez, whose Major League Baseball pitching career was marked by an All-Star berth along with drug use and a highway mishap that earned him the nickname “I-285,” was found dead with a head wound in the Dominican Republic, police said.
Perez, 55, was found in his home in San Gregorio de Nigua, on the country’s southern coast, with an open wound at the base of his skull, National Police spokesman Diego Pesqueira said in a phone interview. No arrests have been made, he added.
Perez, who was having dialysis for liver problems three times a week, was killed around 5 a.m. today, according to the Santo Domingo-based newspaper Diario Libre.
Perez was born on May 17, 1957, in San Cristobal, Santo Domingo. The right-hander made his major-league debut on May 7, 1980, with the Pittsburgh Pirates.
He got his nickname in 1982, his first season with the Atlanta Braves, after becoming lost on Interstate 285 and running out of gas while driving to a home game.
“When I get lost, I been in Atlanta for four days,” he said, according to Sports Illustrated. “I rent a car and get my driving permit that morning, and I leave for the stadium very early, but I forget where to make a turn right.”
Perez pitched for 11 seasons with the Pirates, Braves, Montreal Expos and, for the final two years, the New York Yankees. He was an All-Star selection with the Braves in 1983, when he went 15-8 with a 3.43 earned run average, and had a career record of 67-68 with a 3.44 ERA.
He was arrested for cocaine possession in his home country following the 1983 season and was suspended by MLB in 1992 after another positive cocaine test, the Associated Press reported. One of his brothers, Melido, also pitched in the major leagues for the Kansas City Royals, Chicago White Sox and the Yankees from 1987 to 1995.
Perez capitalized on his driving problems in Atlanta by filming television commercials for the fast-food chain Krystal, in which he encouraged patrons to pick up a map, Sports Illustrated reported in 1983.