Perdew’s service to the United States
After four seasons at George Mason University, J.R. Perdew signed with the San Francisco Giants as an undrafted free agent. Perdew hurt his arm before appearing in a professional game, so he quickly transitioned into an entirely new lifestyle.
Perdew served our country for four years as a United States Marine.
Winston-Salem’s current pitching coach began his time with the Marines in boot camp on October 10, 1987. He served as a rifleman, fire team leader, machine gunner and anti-terrorism security team member, among other jobs.
Thanks to his family’s presence in the military, Perdew knew from a young age that he wanted to help defend the United States. His father was an army ranger in World War II. His mother served as an air force instructor. One of his uncles fought in three wars as a member of the Navy, while another was a crew chief in the Air Force.
An understanding of the military lifestyle does not make it any easier to be away from family, especially considering the challenging circumstances.
“Because some family members had been in the military, they knew what I was going to go through,” Perdew said. “They were proud of me, but I had a hard time being away, and my family had a hard time with me being away.”
Time away from friends and family is not the only challenge a Marine faces on a daily basis. Perdew’s daily schedule was unfathomably challenging, especially during boot camp. His wake up call was 4:30 a.m. He sometimes only had a few seconds to shower and brush his teeth. An hour-long period of free time oftentimes consisted of boot shining and weapon cleaning in silence.
Plus, Perdew would participate in 25-mile marches while carrying 100-pound backpacks. Sometimes, his group would celebrate the conclusion of these daunting marches with a three-mile run and 200 pushups.
“I loved the Marines,” Perdew said, “but I couldn’t have done it for more than four years. It is such a tough job, but it’s definitely an honor. It’s something that I’m glad I did.”
After those four years, two of which were spent on the U.S.S. America aircraft carrier, Perdew returned home and turned to the game he played before his time in the military. He became Allegany College’s pitching coach, a job that he had for seven years before joining the White Sox organization. Since 1997, Perdew has worked in the White Sox system as a pitching coach, a stint that includes seven seasons in Winston-Salem.
He still harkens back to his military days when working with his pitchers. Discipline, work ethic, and teamwork are crucial both in the military and on the diamond.
Most of all, though, Perdew makes sure he and those around him understand the incredible freedom that we all enjoy.
“We’re out here playing a ballgame, and there are still people fighting,” Perdew said. “Sometimes we forget because we’re caught up in our lives here. Every single day that I wake up, I appreciate the freedom that we have and the people who gave it to us.”
This mindset explains why Perdew appreciates the final activity before each baseball game.
“Every day when I listen to the National Anthem, I still stand at attention,” he said. “That song, three minutes of it, means a lot every day. I get goosebumps.”
Perdew, and many others, fought for those three minutes. They also fought so we could enjoy days like today. Enjoy, and be thankful for, the Fourth of July. J.R. Perdew is a big reason why we can celebrate it.