Sports

Tender-hearted fun at Perry League

The Perry League, Yellow Springs’ beginners baseball program, our t-ball program for girls and boys ages 2–9, for all our children regardless of race, color or creed, kicks off its 2010 season Friday night, June 4. As usual, we will have the two Gaunt Park ball diamonds from 6:30–8 p.m. every Friday night, all summer, June 4–August 6. There are no sign-ups, no fees, no need to attend every week. All you need to do if you want to play, if your kid wants to play, is show up. We have the balls, the bats, and the proper loving, patient and tender attitude.

We’re completely and totally noncompetitive and focus on having fun, fun and more fun! On having, in fact, as much fun as possible. Wanna have fun? Your kid wanna have fun? Then come on out.

In case you’re wondering, our league, the Perry League, is named in honor of Donald Perry (1933–1967) who founded the little league program in Yellow Springs. After graduation from Bryan High School in 1952, Donald tried to join the Air Force but was classified 4F when they discovered he had nephritis, a chronic kidney disease. He drove a truck for PK Lumber, put himself through college and devoted a lot of time to coaching and working with kids in various recreation programs. He did so much for kids he was chosen the Jaycee’s Man of the Year in 1963 in recognition of his “exemplary self development and unselfish contribution to youth.”

But he suffered a number of nephritis attacks over the years. His health worsened. He went to University Hospital in Columbus September 1, 1967, where his sister, Patsy, was going to give him one of her kidneys. Five days later, the day before his 34th birthday, they operated, transferring one of Patsy’s kidneys to him. It was the first kidney transplant operation ever attempted at University Hospital. It made front page news here, in Dayton, and in Columbus. “All the tests so far,” he said after the transplant, “indicate my body will accept my sister’s kidney.” He was confident and expected to be back in the classroom, teaching again by the following spring.
His sister Geny remembers the family visiting, rejoicing, then going home feeling relieved, grateful their prayers had been answered. But two hours later Geny got a call to come back to the hospital as quickly as possible.

“He was dead before we got there,” she said when we first told this story in July of 1990. His weakened heart had skipped a beat and stopped.

Three years after his death in 1970, the Minor League, a baseball program for 6–9-year-olds, was renamed the Perry League in his honor. From the beginning, the Perry League was racially diverse and for boys and girls. Harry Chapin, one of the original Perry League coaches, wrote in a letter to the Yellow Springs News in 1989: “Although Minor League had been for boys only, Perry League created so much interest that girls [Pam and Helen Innis] immediately asked coaches if they could play. The girls were so pleasant, enthusiastic and confident they would be treated fairly that ‘yes’ was the only possible answer. So girls have played in Perry League since the beginning.”

Girls. Boys. 2–9-year-olds. Kids of all races, all colors, all creeds. Good kids, funny kids, athletic kids, kids wanting to just play in the dirt. All our kids.

So come on out, honor the son of one of our town’s finest families, and have yourself some fun. Donald would just love it. And so would we.

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