NEW YORK — Baseball history is full of eccentrics. Jimmy Piersall ran the bases backward to celebrate a home run. Mark Fidrych chatted with the ball as if he expected a conversation to break out. Dock Ellis pitched under the influence of LSD. Bill Lee’s nickname, the Spaceman, suggested his out-thereness. And Yogi Berra became a quotable guru without even trying.
Then there was former pitcher Pascual Perez, who was killed last week in a home invasion in the Dominican Republic. He will be remembered less for his occasional success on the mound than for for his idiosyncrasies and, more seriously, his struggles with drugs.
The 55-year-old’s former wife found his body Thursday at the home where he lived alone in San Gregorio de Nigua. Police have charged three men in connection with the slaying.
Mr. Perez was an odd, infectious character who hopped around the mound ‘‘as if he has a pesky mosquito in his uniform pants,’’ Jack Curry of The New York Times wrote in 1991.
He sprinted on and off the field. He pumped his fist after strikeouts. He pointed his finger like a gun at batters. He jingled with bling, his hair a mass of curls. He was elusive and delightful. He was enigmatic.
He was a brilliant, big-game pitcher, but not consistently. He could throw a 95-mile-per-hour fastball and then lob a 30-mile-per-hour eephus pitch.
The right-hander was signed by Pittsburgh in 1976 as an amateur free agent. He then pitched for the Atlanta Braves from 1982 to 1985. Mr. Perez last played in the majors for New York in 1991, compiling a record of 67-68 with the Braves, Pirates, Expos, and Yankees.
His success in Atlanta ended in 1985. During a game in July against the Mets, he gave up seven runs in a 15-10 loss, dropping his record to 1-8. He revived his career the next year in Montreal, where he pitched until 1989. But he spent part of spring training in 1989 in a drug rehabilitation center.
Mr. Perez signed with New York in 1989, but he gave the Yankees less than Carl Pavano did. Often injured, he spent 150 weeks on the disabled list.
By early 1992, Mr. Perez had failed another drug test, and he was suspended for a year. His career was over.