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Globe North Sports

Taking a seat on the bench

Perry hired as Rivier College baseball coach

By Cat Calsolaro
Globe Correspondent / August 14, 2011

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By his count, Anthony Perry has played 50-plus games this summer, suiting up for two clubs, Kingston, N.H., in the North Shore Baseball League, and Malden in the Yawkey League.

“Fifty games is A-OK with me,’’ he said. “I’ve played pretty much every night this summer, it’s fun.’’

Even at 26 years old.

The Andover High grad played 50-plus games per season as a three-time all-conference performer at Fisher College in Boston, followed by back-to-back 140-game seasons playing independent ball for Butch Hobson in Maryland.

His bat still packs a punch - the 6-foot, 220-pound catcher/outfielder is hitting .338 in the Yawkey League - and his passion for the game has not waned.

“He is mature for his age and consumed with baseball,’’ said Kingston manager Paul Sartori, whose club was swept by Peabody in the best-of-five NSBL semifinals last week.

“This is his first year playing in the North Shore Baseball League and he has made a significant contribution to our team,’’ Sartori said.

Perry will be making an even bigger impact on another team very shortly.

He was recently hired as the head baseball coach, and sports information director, at Rivier College, a struggling Division 3 program in Nashua.

So instead of purchasing a few suits and cutting back on his time on the diamond, he will load up on sunflower seeds and take his career to a college dugout.

Rivier finished 4-23 this past spring, with a 12-player roster, and Joanne Merrill, the college’s athletic director, came away impressed with Perry’s energy, as well as his playing experience at amateur, college, and professional levels.

At Fisher, he departed in 2008 as the program’s all-time leader in runs (169) while hitting .355. He was also the first player from the program to sign a pro contract, playing two seasons for Hobson with the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs in the Independent Atlantic League.

“It had been a dream since I was a little kid, to see myself in a pro game,’’ said Perry.

He will be one of the youngest head coaches in New England, yet he is up for the challenge, saying he learned a great deal about managing from Hobson, the former Boston Red Sox player and bench boss.

“I experienced first-hand what a formal manager does on a day-to-day basis that I can apply to potential high school recruits,’’ he said. “I get to teach them the professional side of the game.’’

Perry is wasting no time. He has already met some of his new players (there are 11 returnees from a year ago) and dove into the recruiting game head first, crisscrossing the nation to attend showcases in Texas, California, and Maryland.

“You need to be hungry and motivated right from the start as a coach,’’ said Merrill. “Recruiting is the name of the game in Division 3 athletics; he has really hit the ground running.’’

There are no scholarships, and student-athletes make their choice primarily based on academics.“Rivier alumni are excited that there’s a baseball guy in charge and I like it so far,’’ Perry said. “The facilities we have at Rivier are unreal, it’s nothing like what I had in college. It’s a huge selling point; it really catches the eyes of the recruits.’’

He is well acquainted with Rivier’s home field, Holman Stadium. For seven summers, he caught bullpens for the Nashua Pride (Can-Am League), who also called the complex home.

Perry said he thinks that his coaching style will be a combination of Hobson (also a former manager of the Pride) and Scott Dulin, his coach at Fisher College.

“They were the biggest influences for me,’’ he said. “From Butch, I learned how to manage a big league game, and Dulin took me from being an unknown kid and made me a pro player. I would like to take high school seniors and work with them for four years and have the effect my college coach had on me.’’

Less than four years removed from his own college days, Perry understands what his players will be going through, both on and off the field. And he will still be an active player. (Malden will host Game 1 of a quarterfinal series tomorrow night at Maplewood Park.)

“Being close in age, I know how college academic work is nowadays,’’ said Perry. “At the same time, I can go out there and show them how I want a drill done, without breaking a hip.’’

Merrill said that the college has found that its most successful coaches have developed a strong bond with their respective teams.

“Our athletes really want to learn and get better,’’ she said. “His passion for the game will translate to the students.’’

Cat Calsolaro can be reached at catcalso@bu.edu.


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