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John Perry: Teaching life to Little Leaguers

  • Little League coach John Perry talks with his Westside Majors Little League team during a practice, Thursday April 11, 2013 in Santa Rosa. Perry has been coaching over 40 years and recently coached his 1,000th game. (Kent Porter / Press Democrat) 2013

Fathers coach their sons in Little League. Then their son moves on and so do they. It's a ritual as old as the organization itself (founded 1939). Makes sense. It can't be near as much fun coaching someone else's kids, kids you don't know, kids you never even met. Right? And then you hear about John Perry and you are dumbstruck into silence.

Perry, 61, has been coaching the Westside A's for 40 years.

Perry will coach his 1,000th Little League game May 30.

Perry is childless.

You now will be given a moment to recuperate from those last three paragraphs.

One thousand Little League baseball games. Repeat that sentence fragment again, and again, and again. It becomes more impactive, thicker with history, each time you say it. One thousand Little League games over five decades. And 212 players and none of them were Perry's.

"It's about the kids. It's always been about the kids," Perry said.

Now it's about Perry. The Oakland A's asked Perry to throw out the first pitch before their April 29 game against Baltimore. Sure, Perry said, I'll do it, but I have to have my kids out there on the field with me. Wouldn't want it any other way, the A's replied.

If a Major League Baseball team knows of Perry, would anyone outside the region? I was on the phone Friday with Chris Downs, spokesman for International Little League in Williamsport, Pa. I identified myself and ... that's as far as I got.

"John Perry is a remarkable example of what Little League is all about," Downs said. "To teach values that can be carried into adulthood, to do that for all those years, to be a volunteer all that time, it's a testament to his love of the game and the kids."


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