2018-08-09 / Front Page

TAKE ME OUT TO THE BALLGAME

PERIK LIVING OUT HIS CHILDHOOD DREAM
BY RYAN GIBBS


High Street resident John Perik provides play-by-play for a donut-eating contest in between innings at a Newport Gulls game last week at Cardines Field. The rising high school junior is the team’s on-field emcee. PHOTO BY ANDREA VON HOHENLEITEN High Street resident John Perik provides play-by-play for a donut-eating contest in between innings at a Newport Gulls game last week at Cardines Field. The rising high school junior is the team’s on-field emcee. PHOTO BY ANDREA VON HOHENLEITEN A summer job for teenagers typically means applications, e-mails and interviews, but John Perik credits his dream job to an impromptu phone call following his sophomore year.

Not wanting to “just sit around” for the 2017 summer, Perik contacted Michael Falcone, director of baseball operations for the Newport Gulls. During that fateful conversation, the High Street teen was told to arrive at Cardines Field for opening day. I’ll find something for you to do, Falcone told him.

“I had no specific position,” Perik said. “It was really not a job. I was just volunteering.”

Now in his second season with the Gulls, the 17-year-old rising junior at Portsmouth Abbey is the team’s youngest intern. As their director of marketing, Perik is on the field as the team’s emcee, coordinating contests between innings and promoting the team’s sponsors. For example, when a baseball is hit out of the stadium, he references Newport Glass. After a strikeout, he refers to Newport Jeep, then throws one of their T-shirts into the crowd.


Portsmouth Abbey rising junior John Perik in the stands at Cardines Field with Newport Gulls mascot Gully Jr. during the team’s final game of the 2018. Below, the Jamestown teenager addresses the crowd before the first pitch. PHOTOS BY ANDREA VON HOHENLEITEN Portsmouth Abbey rising junior John Perik in the stands at Cardines Field with Newport Gulls mascot Gully Jr. during the team’s final game of the 2018. Below, the Jamestown teenager addresses the crowd before the first pitch. PHOTOS BY ANDREA VON HOHENLEITEN Practice makes perfect

The Newport Gulls are a summer team in the New England Collegiate Baseball League with 12 other teams. The roster consists of Division I college players from across the country, mostly freshmen and sophomores. The team, which has been based in Newport since 2001, has won six league championships and boasts more than a dozen former players who have gone on to play Major League Baseball, including catcher Chris Iannetta.

Before a game, Perik prepares for his duties by reciting his entire 10-page script over and over. He joked his colleagues find this “a little bit excessive,” although Perik does not want to make mistakes.

“I strongly believe that proper preparation prevents poor performance,” said the High Street resident. “I’m constantly going over everything in my head.”

Between innings, Perik announces raffle winners and leads contests for children, including dance competitions, base racing and corn hole. He also serves the team’s post-game meal and conducts interviews with players.

Perik only works during home games at Cardines Field, the historic ballpark on America’s Cup Avenue that once hosted Satchel Paige. He did not miss any of the 22 games this season. While he occasionally travels to away games, he does not work during them.

Perik’s job also extends outside of the stadium. Before games and on certain off days, he can be found in downtown Newport giving away free tickets and media guides. He also coordinates with sponsors and the media, sending advertisements to local newspapers.

Falcone said Perik’s work ethic around the stadium has been unparalleled. He often pitches in on tasks outside of his marketing duties.

“He’s always willing to help out,” Falcone said, “He has an extremely good work ethic for such a young kid. He’s only going to keep getting better.”

Stepping up to the mic

Perik was not assigned his current role off the bat. When he first walked into Cardines Field before the season opener in June 2017, he was placed on the team’s security detail. His duties, however, did not include checking tickets or ejecting rowdy spectators.

“Security at a summer collegiate baseball league stadium is not security at Fenway Park,” he said. “It’s really picking up trash, cleaning the stadium and doing what no one else wants to do.”

After three weeks working security, Perik got his big break. When the team’s director of marketing lost her voice, Falcone went to his bullpen and used Perik for the rest of the game. At the time, Perik had broadcasting experience as the host of a sports talk show on Portsmouth Abbey’s WJHD radio station.

“I thought it was just going to be for that game,” he said. “It went so well that my boss ended up giving me the position.”

Early interest in game

While Perik is a native of East Greenwich, he has lived in Jamestown for most of his life. He attended the Wheeler School in Providence before enrolling at Portsmouth Abbey. His interest in broadcasting stretches back to his childhood, when he would pretend to do commentary on the baseball games he played with his brother in their backyard.

He also attended a sports broadcasting camp near Boston. His love of sports also began in his childhood, and he even threw out the first pitch at a Newport Gulls game as a 7-year-old.

“I always look back on that,” he said. “I would have never thought I would end up working for the organization.”

Although he landed his role with the Gulls because of his previous experience, Perik is not part of their broadcasting team. He doesn’t announce the players’ names when they step up to bat, although he hopes to join that department eventually.

As for his favorite memory of the season, Perik said every minute that he’s on the field is a nominee.

“There’s nothing better than that,” he said. “Those are the best two months of the year.”

Perik plans to work with the Gulls through his freshman year of college. He is hoping for a championship, which the Gulls have not won since 2014.

Now that the season is done, Perik has turned his attention back to Portsmouth Abbey, where he was re-elected class president. He hopes to do play-by-play radio broadcasts of the Ravens’ football and baseball games.

“If we can do that, then I would be able to really open up my horizons,” he said. “I really don’t have much experience doing play-by-play, but that’s where I want to take my career. I’m hoping we can end up broadcasting a few games.”

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