Community pride is key for new Phoenix baseball coach

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Jonathan Delozier | Oberlin News-Tribune
Mike Perry takes over as varsity baseball coach at Oberlin High School, succeeding current athletic director John Carter.

JONATHAN DELOZIER
REPORTER

Mike Perry grew up in Oberlin and will now lead the Phoenix on the baseball diamond, taking over this season as varsity coach.

The new field general has signed on following a one-year stint by current athletic director John Carter and Lynn Gray’s nine-year tenure.

Oberlin finished 0-16 in Patriot Athletic Conference play last season but Perry thinks community pride and a fresh approach can spell a more successful 2019.

“I went to Elyria Catholic but I grew up here and played on these fields,” he said. “I know Oberlin kids. I know a lot of these kids’ dads. I probably played with a lot of them. The one thing that drew me here is that this school means a lot to these kids. It’s not a big school. It’s a small community but they take a lot of pride in it. They take pride in each other.”

Perry, 49, spent 2015 and 2016 as an assistant coach at Elyria High School and last year served as head coach of the Lorain County Ironmen, a traveling collegiate summer team that plays home games at Lorain’s Pipe Yard.

He and Carter formed a friendship over the past decade while both played semi-professional baseball in Akron, leading to a conversation about OHS’s vacant coaching position.

“I stopped playing about five years ago but we were out there together for a while,” Perry said. “He’s a good player. We always talked on and off and when I heard about this opening I was like, ‘Heck yeah.’”

Carter spent seven seasons as a minor league pitcher, much of it with the Cleveland Indians organization.

Numbers are up on OHS’ 2019 squad and Perry expects senior leadership to help spell a few W’s over the next few months.

“It’s going to take a little bit of patience, but at the same time we’re not giving anything away,” he said. “We fully expect to win this year. We’re preparing to win this year. We have a good group of seniors who are good leaders and good players. They’ve done a great job so far getting the younger kids to buy in. I know back in the 80s, no one wanted to play Oberlin. That kind of talent is still in this community. It’s just a matter of getting them to buy in.”

Young baseball athletes concentrating more on summer leagues has made recruitment harder for some high school programs, the coach said.

“Oberlin hasn’t been bit too bad by that yet and that’s a good thing,” Perry said. “But at the same time, I’m trying to get these kids to understand, as far as baseball is concerned, there’s so much available to them after high school. Lorain County Community College is right here. If you want to continue playing, you can do it right around here.”