Turnovers … by Alan B. Gibson

Posted November 29, 2017 at 9:21 am

Jerry Perdue2G.psd

Mr. Bulldog was a fixture on the sidelines, in the hearts of the players and coaches and other fans

“A winner never quits and a quitter never wins”

Jerry Perdue / 1968

Funny how some things stick in your mind as you pass through this life.

Those words, a quote that has been loosely attributed originally to football coaching great Vince Lombardi, still are vividly visible in my mind as they appeared neatly written with a magic marker on one of the overhead floor joists as I read it from the basement home dressing room of the old Clinton County High School gym.

As an eighth grade player in the inaugural Clinton County Youth League basketball organization, getting dressed in the same dressing room as the high school Bulldogs were using was almost as good as getting to play on the same floor they used.

Being in awe of where I was getting dressed for that first youth league game, in addition to where I was about to play that first league game, was likely why I spent so much time studying that dressing room for the first time we were allowed to be in there.

Those words that were overhead, written on that floor joist, had been written by a figure who I had watched as an even younger boy a few years earlier.

This past week, after battling years of health issues, Jerry Perdue, one of the most recognizable figures related to Clinton County High School sports, passed away.

Jerry was a staunch supporter of all of the athletic programs at Clinton County High School.

Jerry was on the sidelines for many, many years, working hard to develop friendships with the players on the floor each and every season and giving them someone they could talk to and feel like they were being listened to, when a coach or teacher just wouldn’t fill the bill.

He also became a spiritual leader for all of the Clinton County High School athletes as well as the entire student body as a sponsor of the 180 Club.

Most noticeable for the longest time, Jerry was found on the sideline of the basketball floor from season start to season end in a familiar spot at the end of the bench.

Each season, after having studied the players one by one, both the Lady Bulldogs and Bulldogs, Jerry would take the time to design individual awards that would be handed out to the players who had worn the blue and white uniform during the season. Those awards, given at the post-season awards banquet, were titled “Perdue’s Picks” and almost as often included traits that Jerry had discovered about players from off the court conduct in addition to on-court performances.

Jerry wasn’t only just a fan of the program and the players who made up the teams, he was a former player himself – and one who put together some pretty nice stats.

During his own playing days in the mid 1960s, Jerry became a member of the 500 Point Club and was the team’s leading scorer his senior season – 1968. That same year, Jerry was named to the 16th District All Tournament team.

In 2012, the Wall of Fame Selection Committee nominated Jerry for induction and he was a unanimous selection.

On his WOF plaque, his induction notes that he was being inducted in the category of “Special Member” as a “Fan Extraordinaire”. Certainly, I can think of no other fan who more deservedly earned that title.

In recent seasons, as his health continued to decline, Jerry traveled to games with less than perfect consistency, but whenever he was able, you could bet that Jerry would be in his standard spot at the end of the bench for home games of both teams.

Jerry’s presence at games, as well as at practices, will be missed and his nickname that he earned from the players many, many years ago – Mr. Bulldog – will certainly be retired.

As I’ve written in this space more times than I can remember – “Once a Bulldog, always a Bulldog” certainly is applied to the one and only Mr. Bulldog – Jerry Perdue.

He was a fan of the game, but even more so, he was a fan of the kids and the coaches who were wearing the blue and white Clinton County uniform.

Jerry’s sideline absence will be noticeable for many seasons to come, but his contributions will be remembered for much longer.

Once a Bulldog, always a Bulldog.

Mr. Bulldog – Jerry Perdue, rest in peace.