Vikings Baseball Coach Tony Perkins Wins Metro Legend Award at St. Louis Sports Hall of Fame

Posted on 09/25/2017
FHHS Baseball Coach Tony Perkins (left) with St. Louis Cardinals legend Chris Carpenter at St. Louis Sports Hall of Fame Ceremony

For more than 20 years, Francis Howell School District has been able to count on Coach Tony Perkins leading our kids to success on the field and in the classroom. To his players and people throughout the FHSD community, Tony Perkins has become a legend. As it turns out, we are not alone in that assessment. For his decades of hard work and success, Perkins recently earned the Metro Legend Award from the St. Louis Sports Hall of Fame.

Perkins retired from Barnwell Middle School over the summer. “It’s my first year being retired as a teacher,” he said, with a bit of longing in his voice. He will still coach the Vikings baseball team, but not preparing for the new school year has been a different experience. For a person who doesn’t sit still very easily, he must be bored. “I’ve been really busy,” said Perkins. Wait, what? “I’ve been working with the C&H Athletic Association; I’ve got three diamonds to take care of.”

You just can’t keep Perkins off the ballfield. Baseball has been his life, and he has been sharing his love of the game with generations of athletes at Francis Howell High School, and before that Francis Howell North High School. He teaches them to love the game, but also to play it right. “That’s the goal,” Perkins said. “We’ve got three guys in the minor leagues, and we’re hoping to get someone in ‘the bigs.’ That’s one of my pipe dreams.”

Nate Orf, class of 2008, played for Baylor University and is now playing for the Milwaukee Brewers AAA affiliate, the Colorado Springs Sky Sox. Brett Graves, class of 2011 (he showed up at graduation in his Vikings uniform, fresh from a State Championship victory), was drafted after his junior year at the University of Missouri, and now plays for the AA affiliate of the Oakland A’s (Midland RockHounds). And then there’s the coach’s son, Nic Perkins, who was drafted by the Washington Nationals this year and played most recently for the Nationals’ A Club, the Auburn Doubledays.

However, there is one ex-Viking baseball player in the big leagues … only that big league is the National Football League. Calvin Munson, Perkins was happy to point out, played baseball for FHHS, and is now playing for the New York Giants.

In an interview that was supposed to be about him, Perkins wanted to talk more about his players and family. Perhaps that’s why the St. Louis Sports Hall of Fame felt compelled to honor him. Still dizzy over whether he was worthy of the honor, the Hall of Famers surrounding him that evening knew how much he belonged with them. “There was nobody there that was better than anybody else if you know what I mean. I’m walking around with all these professional athletes, and I’m just this lowly high school coach, but everyone was so talkative and welcoming.”

Breaking bread and conversing with sports legends was surreal, he admits. “My wife got to sit next to Pete Weber,” Perkins said, “one of the best bowlers of all time. Marcus Allen was there for Roy Green. Mike Martz, the former head coach of the Rams, was there. Everyone was so nice, and it was just a neat experience.”

Perkins was also happy to see he wasn’t the only FHSD legend in attendance. “Karen Davis was put in there, she was a Howell grad herself – graduated in ’79; she was St. Joseph’s volleyball coach, and she’s got more Final Fours than I do.” With more than 600 career victories, 16 Final Fours, and 8 state championships, Davis did have quite the effect on area sports.

There were many “greats” from several sports, baseball included. Former Cardinals pitcher Chris Carpenter (pictured with Perkins above) was a great competitor, and that’s what a lot of former FHHS Viking players think of Perkins. And when a passerby wanted a picture of the two “baseball guys” together, Perkins was quick to oblige. “(Carpenter) was really, really nice, very amicable.”

Perkins credits much of this honor to his players – it’s their success that proves his coaching has helped them. But Perkins gives the most credit to his wife, Tracy. “We’ve been married a long time,” he said, “and every coach’s wife should be commended. They put up with a lot and do a lot on their own because we’re not around very much. They allow us coaches to do what we want to do.” And what Perkins does is win – the Vikings were State Champions in 2003, 2011, 2013, and 2016, and have garnered 17 conference titles in the past 23 years.

Luckily for us, we can’t keep Tony Perkins off the ballfield. Getting this honor only makes him more excited to get back out on the field this coming season. “You regenerate every year,” he said, “and just go back at it. We try to get better every year.”

Spoken like a true legend.

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