A 5-foot-5 pitcher from the University of Missouri–St. Louis was honored along with some of the biggest names in baseball last weekend at the 55th annual Baseball Writers Association of America St. Louis Chapter Dinner.
Hannah Perryman, who made her mark not on a mound but in the circle over four record-setting seasons with the Tritons softball team, received the John E. Wray/Myron Holtzman Award, bestowed for achievement in a sport other than baseball.
The UMSL community should already be pretty familiar with the accomplishments that led to her being recognized at the event on Jan. 15 at St. Louis Union Station Hotel.
The school’s longtime left-handed ace was a four-time All-American and exhausted her eligibility last spring as the NCAA Division II career record-holder for strikeouts (1,725), perfect games (nine) and strikeouts per seven innings (12.1).
She might have been at her best in her junior season, when she set the Division-II single-season record for perfect games (six) and was a top-three finalist for the Schutt Sports/NFCA DII National Player of the Year Award. But she also went 45-6 with a career-low earned run average of 1.18 with a Division II single-season record 567 strikeouts as a senior. She garnered first-team All-American recognition in both years.
Those numbers weren’t the only thing that won over the committee charged with selecting the honorees.
Perryman, who grew up in Elgin, Illinois, has also received attention as an advocate against stalking as a teenager. It was a personal cause for her after a girl one year older assaulted her at a neighborhood sleepover and continued to stalk her for years until Perryman was in high school.
She testified before the Illinois State Legislature and Illinois State Senate to support a bill that gave victims the right to seek a no-contact order against a stalker without a direct threat. The bill passed in 2009 and became law the next year, and Perryman’s stalker was later arrested.
“Her record as an outstanding pitcher at UMSL, in addition to her fight against stalkers in her earlier years, truly made her an outstanding candidate,” Myron Holtzman wrote in an email.
His is one of two names on the prize. Holtzman, the last sports editor of the St. Louis Globe-Democrat, had his added in 2012 for his years of service to the BBWAA and as the longtime chairman of the dinner. He joined John Wray, who had a long career as the sports editor at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch in the first half of the 20th century.
It’s not every year the committee decides there is a candidate deserving of the honor.
Perryman was the first honoree since 2013, when distinguished amateur golfer Ellen Port received the prize.
Looking back through the list of past winners is to see some of the biggest non-Cardinals names in St. Louis sports since it was first handed out in 1959. Recipients include Hall of Fame professional athletes such as long-ago St. Louis Hawks star Bob Pettit, St. Louis football Cardinals greats Roger Wehrli, Jackie Smith and Dan Dierdorff and, more recently, St. Louis Blues all-time leading goal scorer Brett Hull and defenseman Al MacInnis, and St. Louis Rams stars Marshall Faulk, Orlando Pace and Aeneas Williams, not to mention tennis great Jimmy Connors and three-time U.S. Open golf champion Hale Irwin.
Perryman, who is still enrolled at UMSL and finishing her bachelor’s degree in liberal studies, also made some professional history of her own last April when she became the first NCAA Division II player chosen in the National Pro Fastpitch League draft.
The Akron Racers took her with the 37th overall pick, and Perryman pitched 17 2/3 innings for the team last summer, posting a 3.96 ERA.