Many Boston sports fans were upset last year when popular Celtics’ center Kendrick Perkins was traded away. Although he is gone, Boston should prepare for another Kendrick Perkins. This one plays baseball in the Red Sox organization and looks like he could become even more well-regarded than his eponymous predecessor.
The baseball playing Perkins is a big slugging outfielder, who throws right-handed but bats from the left side. He was a talented high school athlete in LaPorte, Texas, excelling equally on the diamond and the gridiron. He hit over .400 with a total of 26 home runs during his four years on varsity baseball, while totaling 3,602 rushing yards and 55 touchdowns as a running back during his junior and senior seasons, making him one of the most dominant players in the Houston area.
Perkins committed to Texas A&M to play baseball and football, and even though the Red Sox selected him in the 6th round of the 2010 MLB draft, most felt he would be nearly impossible to sign given his college plans. However, Boston, known for aggressively pursuing tough signs, made an offer that Perkins couldn’t refuse, and so he began his professional baseball career.
Considered a raw prospect with enormous potential, particularly in the power department, Perkins has been moved slowly thus far in his career. He played in the Gulf Coast League during the 2010 and 2011 seasons, and this year is with the Lowell Spinners in short season ball. He is already off to a fast start with 4 home runs and 13 RBI in 25 games. A primary focus for him will be working on cutting down on his strikeouts, as he already has 38 in just 93 at bats. That being said, not many players have the combination of athleticism and work ethic of Perkins, so he looks to have a bright future.
Earlier this month I got to see Perkins play in person and even hit an impressive opposite field home run. Before one of the games he took a few moments to chat with me about his baseball career.
Kendrick Perkins Interview:
How did you first become interested in baseball?: Well you know, my grandpa, before he passed, his big passion was baseball. I always looked up to him, and since he passed I feel like I owe it to him because I fell in love with the game because of him. Right now he’s up there watching and I’m pretty sure he’s proud.
You grew up in an area (Texas) where football is king. What is your background with that sport?: Yeah, I played football all four years in high school. It was pretty good and I liked it, but I really played it just to keep in shape during baseball off-season. But what everyone didn’t know back in my hometown was that baseball was my main love, and I shocked a lot of people when I went pro. It was just the right decision for me.
Who were your favorite baseball team and player when you were growing up?: My favorite baseball team was the Seattle Mariners, and Ken Griffey Jr., of course. I bat lefty because of him, and I don’t throw lefty, but I just really watched him growing up and I liked the way he did things. He always played hard and he had fun with the game, and that’s what I am trying to do here.
What was your draft experience like and how did you find out the Red Sox were interested in you?: I found out my sophomore year that the Red Sox were interested in me. They sent me a Christmas card one year and it shocked everybody in my family. Other than that the draft process got real heavy my junior year, and I’m not going to lie but it was very stressful for an 18 year old to go through all of that, but that’s just part of the business.
After you signed, did you do anything special to treat yourself or your family?: Not really. The first thing I did; my older brother, I bought him a truck and I got me a truck too. We put the rest away. The day it happened; the day I got drafted, we celebrated, but I knew from then on after that day it was going to be about business. Just trying to work hard and make my dream come true of making it the big leagues.
Other than the travel, what is the hardest thing to get used to when it comes to being a professional player?: Really just staying healthy and going out there and giving 110 percent every day. There’s going to be days where you’re not feeling it but you got to go out there and give your all because you never know if that day is going to be your last day. The game’s not going to be good to you if you’re not having fun.