Montgomery, AL —-
Veteran free agent clubhouse manager Jeff Perro has announced that he has agreed to terms with the Tampa Bay Rays and their AA affiliate, the Montgomery Biscuits, to be the Biscuits’ home clubhouse manager for the 2012 season.
Perro has been one of the most highly sought after free agent clubhouse managers during the 2011-2012 offseason. He had been in contact with many organizations and minor league teams over the past three months. He had been very quiet, however, about which teams he had talked to, until today, when he announced that he was formally offered, and then accepted, the Biscuits position on Monday.
“There was a lot to consider.” states Perro. “I was mentally preparing myself to have to move across the country to have a job that I wanted. It’s a great relief to have an outstanding job so close to home.”
In additon to proximity, the other qualities of that Perro listed he had to consider were salary and other financials, quality of ballparks and cities, overall chemistry with the affiliate and parent organization, and other intangibles.
“Montgomery’s Riverwalk Stadium has easily been my favorite ballpark since I first visited there a few years ago, and I’ve been to a lot of them. Perro continues “It’s going to be a great experience going to work at that place everyday. I’m also excited about working for Tampa Bay. I’ll be going to spring training in Port Charlotte, then I’ll be able to formally meet the entire organization, but I’ve been very impressed by our emails and phone conversations.”
Prior to working with the Montgomery Biscuits, Jeff Perro has also worked in the clubhouse with the Augusta GreenJackets, in 2008, and the Birmingham Barons, in 2001, as well as the last three seasons. He has also worked with the Mobile BayBears, and defunct Mobile BaySharks as well as the Mobile Mysticks hockey team in other capacities.
“I am going to miss Birmingham. I made some great friends with the Barons and White Sox, but I’m not far from them, I’ll still be able to visit. I also looked foward to the Southeastern Conference baseball tournament and the Rickwood Classic, every year. I’m going to miss those events, but there is no doubt that this is a great move for me.”
Perro will be back and forth between his home south of Birmingham and Montgomery over the next two months to prepare for the upcoming season, He’ll be to flying to Port Charlotte, FL for the Rays’ spring training toward the end of February. From there, he’ll fly back to Birmingham, gather his things, and be ready to begin the 2012 season with the Biscuits.
I accomplished a good bit in my second day at the ballpark, I’m kinda proud of myself. Proud enough to sit back, pop open a cold cheap beer, and watch some replayed spring training baseball. May as well be a little productive and produce a blog, right? Let me briefly introduce you to a couple of guys I admire, two guys whose names you will see here many times this season.
Ken Dunlap is the Birmingham Barons Visiting Clubhouse Manager. Ken’s worked in the Barons’ clubhouses in some capacity since 1994, the Michael Jordan year. He is truly the most interesting man alive. His stories are top notch. Most of them can’t leave this ballpark basement, but one of my favorites is safe for me to retell.
Pete Rose Jr. played for the Birmingham Barons in 1995 and ’96. Those were back in the days before cellphones. Every clubhouse had a pay phone or two that always had a line of players, and was always littered with spent long distance calling cards. The phone would ring ever ynow and then with incoming calls too. Rule of thumb was who ever was closest answered it. The pay phone rang one afternoon, Ken answered it.The conversation went like this:
“Hello, Barons’ clubhouse?”
“Hey, is Pete Jr. around?”
“I’ll get him for you. Can I ask who’s calling?”
“Tell him his dad’s on the phone.”
Ken Dunlap was on the phone with THE Pete Rose. This was the mid 90’s when Rose still at the top of national news stories. Even if you weren’t a baseball fan at all, you still knew who Pete Rose was. Not to mention the fact that he is one of the greatest players of all time and holds that all-time hit record.
Pete was slightly before my time, but he was one of the best in the game back when Ken was coming into his prime as a baseball fan. It’d have to be the equivalent me talking to Ken Griffey Jr, Roger Clemens, or Cal Ripken. Wow.
Curt Bloom. If you ever run into this guy at Regions Park or any other park in the SL, stop him and talk to him. 2011 will be CB’s twentieth year as the radio voice of the Barons. Unlike myself or Ken, his job is to actually watch the games and talk about him. Every home and away game the Barons have played the last twenty years. How many? Roughly 2800 games.
But he doesn’t only watch and talk about the games, he meets and learns every player that comes in this clubhouse, often a few that are in the opposing clubhouse too. How many is that? Barons, plus a handful of visitors, I’d guesstimate at least 700, easy.
You can imagine the stories that this man has in his brain. The great part is, the man is a paid talker, and he is damn good at it. He can take those stories out of his brain and send words out of his mouth like few people I have ever met. All you have to do is stop him, talk to him, and let him take care of the rest.
I’d estimate there are less than 500 people in the world that are in the same profession as I am. You can say we’re all in competion to get one of the 60 coveted big league jobs that exist. The saying is, though, “Clubbies don’t retire, they die.” The national media caught wind of the story of Mike Murphy, the Home Clubhouse Manager of the San Francisco Giants, this past fall. “Murph” began working with the Giants as a bat boy in 1958 and has held his current position since 1980. With a turnover rate like that, I’d say it’s tougher for us to get to The Show than our players.
You’d think, then, this would be a pretty dog-eat-dog, cut-throat, step-anybody-you-have-to-to-get-to-the-top world of people trying to fight for jobs at the tip top of our industry, but it’s not. We have a bond. We all sharing stories with each other stories and I don’t think any of us are above sharing tips (the advice kind, not the money kind,) with each other. For example, if any of use have had great (or horrible) experiences with a certain manager who we see has been named manager of a team of one of our pals, we’ll let him know.
Visiting clubhouse managers in our league often help prepare other visiting clubhouse managers in the league for the teams in our league with a phone call. Such as, “Team X are a bunch of jerks. They thrashed my clubhouse when they left and I think somebody stole my blender. They’re coming to your place next week, just thought I’d warn you.” Call it, “professional courtesy.”
Dan Brick, the Visiting Clubhouse Manager of the AAA Buffalo Bisons for the past eight seasons, says, “I talk to most of them [clubbies of the International League], but I’ve only met one of them before, but I like to think we all work together pretty well. When it comes to calling each other when a team leaves for a heads up, that kind of stuff.”
We’ll also, occasionally, strike up conversations with players about their home clubhouse manager or other visiting clubhouse managesr. I’ve been told that the food in Chattanooga is legit. I have don’t have too much pride to tell John White, the Lookouts’ clubbie, that I hear good things about his work. If I overhear a team talking abut how lazy their clubbie is or how nasty their clubhouse is, I won’t say “Yeah, I’ve heard that from a lot of guys. I don’t know how he still has a job.” If I know it’s a new guy or if it’s somebody I know, I don’t mind giving him a call to give him a heads up. I’m not going to bash anybody to make myself look better.
I’ve become familiar with the clubbies at the Sox affiliates above and below Birmingham and I wouldn’t be affraid to talk to them if I needed something. Players will occasionally be promoted or demoted and accidently bring their old team’s jerseys with them or forget to pay dues. If I’m hearing those negative reviews about one of my “competitors” within my own organization, I will definitely act professional about it.
Each individual minor league team works differently with their clubhouse managers. Some teams provide things that others don’t, some teams pay more than others don’t, some teams have better facilities than others. We can converse with each other about how our situation compares to that of other clubbies. I had a discussion with one of my brethren with a different team, in a different league, at a different level, with a different organization, in another state. He wasn’t sure if he was being treated fairly by his team and was considering searching for greener pastures. After our discussion, I guess he decided it was likely best for him to stay put.
I’ve also received tweets, emails, and Facebook messages from people who are either interested in becoming a minor league clubhouse manager, or are were recently hired and looking for advice. I don’t have a problem with that, I can always make time to talk baseball. In fact, one of the teams in the Southern League recently go a new home clubhouse manager. He hit me up on Facebook to introduce himself and ask for pointers. He was formerly a bat boy and assistant clubhouse manager in the big leagues. Seems like a cool guy and he is going to make a nice addition to our fraternity.
With Hall of Famer Ryne Sandberg during the 2009 season.