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Posted: Monday, Aug 08, 2005 - 08:54:37 am CDT

Perry uses abilities to overcome disability

Victor Perry
by Charley Robinson - Contributing writer

You have to be careful profiling Victor Perry. If you label him courageous you're right on the mark but if you hang the handicapped sign on him you're way off base.

Although he was stricken with Infantile Paralysis at the age of nine months he did not let this setback rule his life. He was an outstanding pitcher for the Uvalde Coyotes as a high schooler and went on to become a success in his adult life.

Victor became a victim of polio in infancy.

"They called it Infantile Paralysis in those days," said Perry, "and I was lucky it only affected my arm. Usually it affects the whole side of the body but my leg escaped damaged."

His right arm bore the brunt of the terrible, crippling disease so he had to become a southpaw.

"I don't ever remember being any other way so I never let it get me down, I just worked hard to overcome whatever disadvantage it might have caused."

Rising from very humble beginnings on Boone Street in Uvalde, Perry's hard work throughout his life has paid off. He has advanced to the office of chief appraiser of the Maverick County Appraisal District and in 1997 he was president of the Texas Association of Appraisal Districts.

Victor was the oldest of four children and his two brothers were athletic.

"Hines was an all-around athlete in football, basketball, baseball and track. When we were young we used to play stickball in the back yard. We took a sock and wrapped it with black tape and that was our ball. But that's where the hand-eye coordination developed and later when we were lucky enough to have a baseball I worked on my control."

"I didn't throw very hard," recalls Perry, "but I had pin-point control. I could change speeds and put the ball exactly where I wanted it. That was the key to whatever success I had."

Success he did have. Opponents did not approach Victor as a handicapped pitcher. If they did, it was a big mistake. His record would never indicate that he was anything but a normal young athlete.

Victor's big league heroes were Harvey Haddix, the Pittsburgh Pirates lefthander who tossed a perfect game for 12 innings in 1959 only to lose in the 13th. He also admired soft-tossing Eddie Lopat of the Yankees. He patterned himself after them.

"I had a pretty good move to first base because I worked on it a lot," said Perry.

If batters were fortunate enough to get to first they quickly discovered his deceptive move. During his senior season Victor picked 10 runners off first, which might be a Coyote record.

He also recorded a one-hitter versus Eagle Pass that year and a two-hitter against Del Rio, both big district wins for the Coyotes.

I personally faced Victor a few times and on several occasions played on the same team with him. I never thought about his handicap. He was a tough competitor and as difficult a pitcher to hit as any.

Victor came up through the Uvalde Little League system, which was one of high quality during the 1950s.

I played on the Kiwanis Yankees and Hines was on the VFW. We had some battles.

Victor made the Coyote varsity as a freshman and then made a big impact the next three years. He wasn't just a pitcher, he was an all-around player. He usually played right field when he wasn't pitching and had a career batting average over .300.

"I couldn't hit the long ball but I became an adept bunter and I could slap the ball over the infielder's head. Occasionally if the outfielders decided to cheat in on me I would smack one over their head."

When former Texas University baseball coach Cliff Gustafson spoke at the Uvalde High School All-Sports Banquet a few years ago one of his memories of Uvalde was Victor Perry.

Gustafson was a highly successful baseball coach at South San Antonio High School and the Bobcats just happen to be in Uvalde's district. Although Gustafson's Bobcats won seven state titles they always had to go through Uvalde to make it happen. The Coyotes always made it tough.

Gustafson remembered Perry giving his Bobcat hitters fits.

"He threw strikes but you could never get good wood on the ball. He had excellent control and knew how to pitch. He kept us off balance. And when he came up to hit we didn't dare let up on him."

According to an article in the May 1959 issue of "Texas Coach" magazine, Victor "Possum" Perry was a self-made ball player. Because of his crippled right arm he would hold his glove with his right hand but as soon as he delivered the ball he would slip it on his left hand and be ready to field. To his credit, Victor was an excellent fielder. Opponents that tried to take advantage by bunting soon learned it was useless.

One of Perry's Holy Name teammates, Lecho Quiroga, remembered Victor as very quiet, but very competitive. He never let his handicap bother him. In fact, no one treated him as being handicapped. When I think of Victor it is all good thoughts. I never heard anyone say anything negative about him. He's a very special person.

"My best year was my senior year [1959]," remembered Perry.

"I was a combined 17-3 in high school and summer ball with Holy Name," one of Uvalde's premier town teams. He also hit .346 that year.

The following year he toiled for the Cowboys of Southwest Texas Junior College. He had a couple of two-hit gems for SWTJC and big wins over Odessa College and Lackland Air Force Base.

Pitching for Holy Name he would team up with Mike Mirelez on Sunday afternoons against the competition. Perry hurled a 10-inning complete game one Sunday against the Pearsall All Stars.

"Most Sunday games were doubleheaders and Mike and I would spilt the mound duties. One Sunday he would pitch the nine-inning game and I would pitch the long game the next Sunday."

Another teammate, Raul Samarripa, remembered one of those long games.

"We were playing in Rosita, down in Mexico, and the first game went 13 innings and the second one was 12 innings. Maggie Losoya went all 13 innings in the first game and Victor relieved Mike Mirelez in the second game and we won it."

Samarripa praised Perry as a real competitor.

"He didn't throw hard but he had excellent control. He could deliver the ball and get that glove on his left hand before the ball ever reached the plate."

Perry sometimes pitched for the other Uvalde Town Team, the Red Sox, and teamed up with Tuck Wiebush one day to combine on a no-hitter against the San Antonio Hornets of the Hot Wells League.

One game he remembered was a 1961 game against Eagle Pass while pitching for Holy Name.

"We had not beaten them down there since 1956. I had a good day on the mound, and my brother Hines hit a grand slam and knocked in six runs and we beat them 11-5."

Hines was stricken with leukemia and died at the age of 23.

After his junior college career Victor transferred to Texas A&I but in 1964 took a job with J.C. Penney as a manager trainee in Eagle Pass. Later he moved over to the city office and worked in the tax assessor's office.

Then it was back to college at San Marcos but he got a call that landed him the position of tax assessor collector for the City of Eagle Pass and he held that position until 1975.

He switched to the Maverick County Water Control Distict No. 1 for six years but when the state created the Tax Appraisal Districts in 1981 he went back to the Maverick County Appraisal District and has been there for the last 22 years, working up to his present position as chief appraiser.

"I love this job," said Victor. "You get to meet a lot of people in this position and everyone seems to know you. There are some trying times but for the most part it is very rewarding, and as long as I like what I am doing and am healthy I hope to continue doing the job."

A testimony to the character and integrity of Victor Perry is that this tax assessor/collector is so well respected in Eagle Pass that he could probably get elected mayor.

Victor married his high school sweetheart, Guadalupe Hernandez of Uvalde, and they have one son, Victor Jr., who is an accomplished and successful attorney in Eagle Pass. They also have four grandchildren. Victor's mother still resides in Uvalde.

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