Former Atlanta Braves major leaguer Gerald June Perry will be the featured guest at the Bluffton High School Bobcats baseball camp from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Dec. 11.
Bluffton Coach Bryant Kitty said this has been a regular event for several years, and this year will feature an all-star staff of coaches and experienced players that are hard to get in the spring.
“The best time to get hold of that kind of staff is during the holiday time when everybody’s home,” said Kitty. In addition to Perry, Hilton Head Island’s native son and World Series champion Dan Driessen will be in attendance.
“To have both of those guys on our campus at the same time, I’m like an 8-year-old,” Kitty said. “I’m looking forward to it myself. We’re so fortunate to have people like this, including USCB Head Coach Ted Falkner.”
Perry was excited to be part of the camp and said it was family connections to Kitty that gave him the opportunity to be part of the camp.
“I’ve known the family for years. I went to school with his uncles and his mom and I hadn’t met Bryant until lately. His grandmom used to get her hair done at my grandmom’s salon,” said Perry.
The first person who told him about the camp was Bluffton Town Councilman Fred Hamilton, and that got Perry connected to Kitty.
“We got hooked up and hit it off, and we’ve been working on getting something together,” Perry said. “I anticipate we’ll have a nice turnout. It’s trying to give back to the community where I grew up, and get kids involved in baseball. It’s an awesome sport – America’s sport. When I was growing up baseball was big, and that’s all we did was play baseball and talk baseball.”
What Perry hopes to share is his work ethic and the path he had to take.
“I want talk to the guys about the road you have to go down and focus, because it’s not always about the good times. It’s the bad times, too, and just being able to believe and keep active going after your dreams.” He said. “My Uncle Dan Driessen went into the big leagues when I was 12. I wanted to grow up to be just like him. It wasn’t easy. I got drafted by the Braves at 17 right out of high school, and grew up in the minor leagues. I was shocked because I would have played for free when I got drafted. That was the passion I had for the game.”
Perry will be with others who shared that passion and met the challenges. Kitty’s college roommate Garey Ingram was drafted, and played for the Los Angeles Dodgers, as well as Dodger and Boston Red Sox minor league teams, and Kitty’s cousin Renaldo “Ra-Ra” Jenkins played for the Milwaukee Brewers.
“With that kind of coaching staff, we get to cover all aspects of the game, from offense to defense,” Kitty said. “Their presence and knowledge and willingness to share is going to be phenomenal.”
Training for high school baseball begins around the end of January, Kitty said.
“We plan on taking the coaching we get this December into training in January. I’m hoping that our players can consume some, if not all, at least the important stuff, coming from these gentlemen’s mouths about baseball,” Kitty said. “I’ve been around baseball for a long time but I would never put myself at this level of these gentlemen.”
The camp is designed for baseball players ages 8 to 17. Participants should bring their own cleats, glove, baseball pants or long pants and personal bats. Equipment will be provided for use in the camp.
Lunch and drinks will be provided, or campers are welcome to bring their own lunch. Following the camp there will be several contests for individual awards with a participation and awards ceremony to follow.
There is a fee $50 per person, but additional siblings receive a $10 discount. For more information, call Kitty at 843-706-8946 or 843-247-6905.
Gwyneth J. Saunders is a veteran journalist and freelance writer living in Bluffton.