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Howell’s Tony Perkins selected to National Baseball Coaches Hall Of Fame

Coach Tony Perkins talks with his Francis Howell team.

Coach Tony Perkins talks with
his Francis Howell team.

Francis Howell baseball coach Tony Perkins has had a career blessed by super talent, a lot of winning, and more than a few awards and accolades for his tireless work in making Howell one of the most successful and recognizable high school baseball programs in the state of Missouri.

Now Perkins’s coaching acumen and success is being celebrated on the national level.

In December, Perkins was elected to the National High School Baseball Coaches Hall Of Fame as part of its 2016 class.

“I have had so many highlights, that it’s up there,” Perkins said of the award. “You go to so many of these clinics, and they have banquets where they recognize and introduce all these guys [for their careers] and you say, ‘Wow, these are something else, the accomplishments these guys have in their career,’” Perkins said. “It’s an honor and it’s the pinnacle when you’re considered one of the best coaches in the nation. That’s saying a lot.”

Perkins, who holds a 449-222 record in 20 years as Howell’s head coach, got the good news during the first week of December while attending a coaches clinic at the St. Louis Ballpark Hilton. Then, in late December, Francis Howell Athletic Director Sean Erwin received an email from Ron Davini, the executive director of the hall, and the word was out officially. That announcement left Perkins feeling more than a little emotional.

“I have no idea how they selected me,” Perkins said. “The criteria they go by for selection is pretty tough and thorough, and when I got the news from Ron Davini, I teared up. I’m an emotional guy, so it was tough trying to keep my composure.”

Coach Perkins with Gary Bender, his high school coach from Rock Island [Illinois]

Coach Perkins with Gary Bender, his high school coach from Rock Island [Illinois]

Coming out of Truman State University, Perkins began his high school coaching career as the head baseball coach at Brashear [Missouri] where his teams were 44-24 in his three seasons there. After Brashear came stops as an assistant at Francis Howell North, coaching under longtime friend Bobby Dunahue; and for former Francis Howell head coach Terry Kasper.

Dunahue and Kasper are the two people that Perkins credits with helping him develop a strong foundation that allowed him to become one of the area’s and state’s top high school coaches.

“I’m lucky I ran into Bobby first when I got to Howell North,” Perkins said, “and then an assistant job opened up at Francis Howell. I went for it and got it, and we had a lot of success going to two final fours in 1991 and 1993. We had a lot of fun and we’re still great friends.”

During his two decades of success at Howell, Perkins has won 13 Gateway Athletic Conference Titles and three state championships, and has coached 10 All-Americans and 27 First-Team All-State performers.

Perkins, who has also coached his sons Zac, Nic, Ryan and Justin in the program, credits its success to great players and great teamwork over the years.

“My sons Justin and Ryan and I were talking about that the other day. [They were] asking me who was the greatest player I ever coached and that’s a rough one,” Perkins said. “I’ve had so many good ones. I could narrow it down to maybe seven, but I can’t honestly name just one of them because we’ve had so many great teams.”

Other key supporters who Perkins credits with helping him along his Hall Of Fame career are former Francis Howell athletic directors Roger Hodap, Jud Hoffman and Dave Witter, and current Howell athletic director Erwin.

Perkins will not have his sons there to see him get inducted in December since they will be away in school, but Tracey, his wife of 23 years, will be there that weekend to share the special moment with him.

“My wife’s going to come and it’s going to be a neat thing,” Perkins said. “It will be real nice to share it with her, because with wives and coaches it’s a hard deal and she’s been there for me through most of it … it’s hard and I sure appreciate her doing that.”

A longtime member of the National High School Baseball Coaches Association representing  District 5, Perkins will be inducted along with Larry Watkins of Petal [Mississippi] High, the only other member of the 2016 induction class.

Perkins is the third coach from Missouri to be inducted into the hall.

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