Warriors Baseball Expected to Play With Passion and Respect as Perez Takes Over
At one point Frankie Perez wanted to be Pat Hamrick’s assistant until the day he retired. But Coach Hamrick saw a bigger future for Perez. He saw him being in charge of his own program.
As it turns out Hamrick, one of the newest inductees of the Alabama Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame, whose career includes more than 500 wins (and 400 plus at Thompson), had incredible foresight as Perez was named his successor as head coach of the Warriors and now the Frankie Perez era of Thompson baseball is in full effect.
Despite being just 37 years old, Frankie has already had quite the life’s journey to Alabaster. Born in Caracas, the capital city of Venezuela, Perez dreamed of playing professional baseball like many kids his age there.
He played a part in three consecutive championships at the high school level with his father coaching as well.
“He instilled in me the hard work and really that this was my way out for a better life. Since I can remember my dream was to learn English, play baseball in the United States and be a famous baseball player like Andrés Galarraga.” Galarraga, also born in Caracas, played in the majors from 1985 to 2004.
As one of the elite young players in the country, Frankie’s parents made the incredibly difficult decision to send their son to the U.S. in hopes it would give him an easier path to professional baseball. Their sacrifice would prove fortunate as Venezuela slowly became engulfed in political turmoil that would bankrupt the country.
Frankie made the long trip to Houston, Texas for the difficult task of acclimating to America, his new teammates and learning English as a second language.
After finishing grade school, Perez began the next step in his career at the JUCO level at Odessa College. He played well and earned a scholarship to play at Western Kentucky, but with the current coach retiring his scholarship would likely be shaved down with a new staff coming in.
“The coach told me the only schools that could offer me a full ride were Division II schools and I said, ‘Sir, I don’t care what division it is, I’m a baseball player, I just want to go play baseball.”
He soon found himself in Shelby County for the first time playing for Greg Goff at the University of Montevallo where he would later meet his wife, Stephanie.
Perez didn’t know it then, but his coaching philosophy would begin to take shape from that moment on. Goff went on to coach at the University of Alabama and is currently the head coach at Purdue University.
“I loved talking with him (Goff) on the phone, he was intense and he was getting a bunch of JUCO guys such as myself to make a run at the national championship and I said, man that’s what I want to do,” said Perez. “His aura is like no one I ever played for. He’s a guy who expects you to be mentally tough, he expects you to be great to play for the name on the front of your jersey, not the name on the back. And we were all average players, he just got the best out of us.”
Frankie and the Falcons proceeded to have unprecedented success at UM including a special trip to the NCAA D2 World Series.
As his collegiate career came to a close, Perez was quickly approaching a crossroads in his life. With a new family to provide for, he worked several jobs including waiting tables and selling insurance. As fate would have it, Stephanie ended up being the one to tell him about an open position to work at Thompson.
As a coach for the first time, Perez continued to mold his system for the next eight years under Pat Hamrick.
“My first impression of Coach Hamrick is busy. That guy never stops still to this day,” says Perez. “Probably the hardest working coach I’ve ever met and I doubt that anybody will meet the standards of hard work like Coach Pat Hamrick did. This guy did it all. I wanted what he had with his players.”
After leading his own program for a year at Montevallo and then Hazel Green High School for four years including the 2018 6A state title, Perez felt he could’ve stayed at the helm for the Trojans for the remainder of his career. However, a call from ACS Superintendent Dr. Wayne Vickers changed all of that and he was soon named head coach of the Warrior program where his coaching career first began.
“I honestly thought that Hazel Green was going to be my last stop. I was extremely happy there. My wife and I loved it there, the community was so good to me and my family,” says Perez. “But I got a call from Thompson High School and I’ll never forget that call. It was surreal, like wow this is actually happening.”
Getting the baton passed from Pat Hamrick, who saw to it that a rich baseball tradition was maintained in Alabaster, is an exciting challenge for Perez who looks forward to putting his own stamp on Thompson’s program.
“I want my players to be examples in the classroom, examples in the community and to respect the same of baseball. I want them to be as passionate about it as I am. This is a game I love and respect and if you can’t match that then you don’t need to wear that jersey.”
With nearly a year under his belt, he knows he has the pieces to compete in a talented Birmingham area right now.
“I️ think we have pitching that can compete against offense. The two years I️ coached for state championships, we have as much pitching this year as we had (at Hazel Green) those years,” says Perez.
The Warriors’ pitching corps is a strong one headlined by Alabama State commit Devin Brooks. Senior, and one of the team leaders, pitcher Gavin Chandler is a lefty with experience in the metro area. Ben Pearman will be another pitcher Perez will rely on with an electric arm capable of reaching speeds of 92 mph.
Frankie Perez’s long road to the helm of Thompson baseball has been one full of obstacles and adversity. However, with each step, he has emerged a better person and coach.
The future is promising and the passion and enthusiasm on the diamond is sure to be something Warrior Nation can expect for years to come.