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Local Airmen Shag Fly Balls with the Chicago White Sox

Two Illinois natives were among a group of U.S. Air Force members invited to take the field with the Chicago White Sox at spring training.

The group of U.S. Air Force members, with Robin Ventura, invited to participate in Chicago White Sox spring training. | Chicago White Sox.
The group of U.S. Air Force members, with Robin Ventura, invited to participate in Chicago White Sox spring training. | Chicago White Sox.
Southland native Ryan Perry finished just a few strides behind Chicago White Sox outfielder Adam Eaton, in a race across the main field at Camelback Ranch.

Perry, of Sauk Village, was one of seven U.S. Air Force members from Glendale’s Luke Air Force Base invited to join the Chicago White Sox at spring training in Glendale, Ariz. 

"Best part, besides my dazzling catches out there, was probably the race against Eaton," Perry said. "I didn't get warmed up properly, I didn't get all the foot drills he did, but my speed's not bad for 37 years old.

"He beat the brakes off me."

Bloom Trail High School grad Perry and Chris Powell of South Holland shagged fly balls and joined in batting practice, toured the facility and watched a game against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim—a "phenomenal day."

Perry, who has been with the Air Force for 11 years, arrived at the Glendale Luke base in October. Prior to that, he was stationed in Florida and Kentucky. But his allegiance to the Men in Black has stayed strong. 

"I'm just a Chicago baseball fan at heart," Perry said. "I grew up with it—it's something that doesn't change."

Perry shared the experience with his wife Christine—including meeting Paul Konerko. Bo Jackson also visited with the airmen, thanking them for their service. 

"Everyone was really gracious," he said. "The soldiers from Luke Air Force Base would like to thank the White Sox for taking time out of their day. We appreciate it."

Perry offered a prediction for the Sox season. 

"They're looking good," Perry said. "With new additions, it looks like a younger team. 

"I say 90 games—got a shot at the division, or at least a wild card."


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