Life After Baseball: The Story of Ryan Perry
Photo Credit: Leon Halip/Getty Images
Pitcher Ryan Perry was a cut above the rest when it came to his arm, even considered almost as good as a future World Series champion.
In 2008, Baseball America named Perry the second best overall prospect behind Boston Red Sox starter Rick Porcello.
“That was a very big honor,” Perry said. “We obviously had a lot of great guys in the organization, Porcello was the pick the year before me and we came up together and I lived with him for numerous years and we came up to the big leagues together. Even being in the realm of that kind of category was just a huge honor and hard to explain the feeling. It puts a lot of expectations on your shoulders which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.”
The right-hander was born in Pomona, California where he was gripping the red stitches from a young age.
“Rumor is from my parents, when I first started walking, you could see me carrying around a baseball,” Perry said. “So it was obviously a very young age when I started getting involved in baseball and sports in general.”
He always had aspirations to take the mound in the big leagues, but it did not occur to him that it could really happen until colleges came knocking.
“It was always a dream of mine, but it wasn’t until I started getting college offers,” Perry said. “The community college in Tucson, Arizona was the first one that offered me [a scholarship] and that was really the start of like, ‘Hey someone is willing to pay for me to go to school to play baseball and we may have something here.'”
He did not have to wait long to get his first college chance. A few months later, Perry was offered a full ride to the University of Arizona.
“That’s when it really started to sink in that this dream that I had for so long could be a potential reality,” Perry said.
The California native then took his talents to the the Cape Cod Baseball League. A place that is considered a measuring stick for ballplayers looking to play in the big leagues.
Perry was more so excited than uneasy.
“It is definitely an incredible league and I wouldn’t say I was as much nervous as I was excited being able to play with some of the most premiere college baseball players of the time,” Perry said. “I felt confident in my ability and obviously there’s expectations to perform, and in that aspect I was nervous but there was more excitement knowing the amount of exposure there is out there.”
Perry took advantage of his time at Cape Cod to hone his craft. He was named a league All-Star and pitched a save in the namesake game. His velocity also climbed from 90 MPH to the mid-to-high-90’s catching the eye of Major League teams.
“That’s when I was being approached by a lot more scouts,” Perry said. “I then heard some rumblings of [possibly being taken in the first round], so Cape Cod 100 percent was when it felt surreal that all these teams were thinking of taking me in the first-round.”
Playing baseball against the University of Miami at the Super Regionals, Perry’s life changed forever.
“During the draft, we actually had practice going on and we kind of did team huddle before we hopped on the bus,” Perry said. “That’s where it was announced to me for the first time and we had one of the directors from the organization come over to me to say congratulations and let the team know so it was a really cool experience to be able to take part in that with the team getting a call from the [Tigers] general manager saying, ‘We love what you did and expect you to make an impact for us in the very near future.'”
His first Major League Baseball appearance was not in Detroit, but at the Rogers Centre across the border in Toronto.
This time, he was incredibly nervous.
“You feel like your heart is about to pump out of your chest it’s pounding so hard,” Perry said. “I remember coming out for my first inning of work and Jim Leyland walks over to me and puts his hand on my chest and starts laughing because the beats per minute were probably off the charts and it was absolutely surreal to finally make it to the point where you finally make it to the point you’ve been working for and to step on the field with guys like Porcello, [Justin] Verlander, [Miguel] Cabrera, and the guys on the other team I looked up to my whole life.”
In his career, he went up against the likes of Derek Jeter and recorded first Major League strikeout against two-time All-Star Alex Ríos.
“It was in my debut,” Perry said of the strikeout. “He was a high caliber player and just being able to walk away from my first Major League outing saying ‘I struck out Alex Ríos,’ so that was pretty cool.”
After stepping away from baseball, Perry took a year off to travel and decompress. He began a journey to find a whole new calling.
A rental investment made by he and his parents into his childhood home planted a seed of a possible real estate venture.
“We rented that out when [my parents] moved up to Phoenix, Arizona and that was my first experience with it,” Perry said. “I never really considered then to do real estate full time.”
Perry experimented in careers such as a pool cleaning service, 3D designing for Raytheon, but those never gave him the spark that holding the baseball would.
His financial advisor said his strength in people skills and hands on approach made him perfect for the real estate business.
The former Detroit Tiger has ran with his new career founding Big League Investments buying underperforming apartment complexes and fixing them new.
“In all aspects of real estate, I’ve really just fallen in love,”Perry said. “Now I’m the director of business development for [Mizar Commercial] a real estate financing company but really trying to capitalize off of doing things that really correspond to each other.”
The story came full circle when he sold the house he was raised in.
“Selling my childhood home it was definitely a little bittersweet,” Perry said. “A lot of incredible memories in that home but moving on to bigger and better things.”
Perry a single man, says one day when he has kids he will definitely be putting a baseball in their hands.
“That’s a given,” Perry laughed. “I would love for my son to follow in my footsteps and that’s what my dad did he was the best coach of my life. He was my coach through Little League, pretty much at every stage and he had the biggest impact on me and I would love to be able for my kids to say that about me and to watch them play in the big leagues would be out of this world.”