Claudia Perry, SABR Board President from 2001 to 2003

In Memoriam: Claudia Perry

Claudia PerryClaudia Perry, who served as SABR’s first female and first Black president of the Board of Directors, died at the age of 64 on May 16, 2024, in Evanston, Illinois.

“She left SABR in a better position than she found it,” said former Board President Dick Beverage when Perry finished her term in 2003.

Perry was invited to throw out the first pitch at Fenway Park during the 2002 SABR convention in Boston, an event memorialized in The Fenway Project, a SABR book in which she wrote about her experience:

“I could blame the erratic nature of my first pitch on the weight of history, since standing in front of the mound at Fenway was a place I would have never expected to be, given the Red Sox’ history with people who looked like me. Pumpsie Green and Tommy Harper look like me, which might offer an explanation to those who are familiar with Red Sox history. Pumpsie gave the Red Sox the opportunity to be the last team in the majors to integrate, and Harper sued the club for discrimination.”

Perry first joined SABR in 1987 after she was assigned to cover the annual convention in Washington, DC. She was elected to the Board of Directors as Secretary in 1990 and appointed as Vice President in 1993 before serving one term as Board President from 2001 to 2003. She also served as co-chair of the Business of Baseball and Women in Baseball research committees.

Perry was a distinguished music and sports journalist for nearly 30 years with The Star-Ledger in Newark, New Jersey; the San Jose Mercury News, Houston Post, and Richmond Times-Dispatch. She served for 17 years on the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s nominating committee and her work appeared in Rolling Stone, The Crisis, and other publications. In 1999, she was nominated for a Grammy Award with Bill Ivey and others for the liner notes on From Where I Stand: The Black Experience in Country Music. In recent years, she worked in the e-learning and legal services industries in Illinois and as a grant project coordinator for Loyola University Chicago.

She was also one of the most popular champions in Jeopardy! history, appearing 11 times on the game show from 1996 to 2014. She won four games in a row in January 1997 and later appeared on Jeopardy’s Tournament of Champions (1998), Million Dollar Masters (2002), and Battle of the Decades (2014). She also appeared on two other trivia game shows, ABC’s 500 Questions in 2016 and Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? in 2018.

Born on June 14, 1959, in Washington, DC, Claudia Ann Perry nurtured her lifelong love of baseball through books, beginning with Bill Veeck’s Veeck as in Wreck and Jim Bouton’s Ball Four. “Being just a kid then, I didn’t know what all of Ball Four was about. But that began my love affair with the Houston Astros,” Perry told authors Susan Sheehan and Howard B. Means in 2002.

As a child she traveled extensively in Africa, where her father worked on loan from the US Census Bureau to the UN Commission for Africa. She graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1981 with a bachelor’s degree in Art and Design before beginning her career in journalism.

She was a volunteer caseworker with the Baseball Assistance Team and served on the board of the Bering Community Service Foundation, a nonprofit HIV/AIDS service provider. She also volunteered with Equality Illinois, NAMI Chicago, and the MIT Club of Chicago.

With her Jeopardy! winnings, she traveled to Australia and New Zealand with her sister, Kathryn. She also enjoyed other trips to Antarctica and to Finland. She was predeceased by her parents and sister.

A memorial service is scheduled for 10:00 a.m. on Saturday, May 25, 2024, at Grace Lutheran Church in Evanston, Illinois, with private interment to follow.


SABR Board President Claudia Perry, center, prepares to throw out the ceremonial first pitch at Fenway Park on June 28, 2002. At left is Boston Red Sox executive Marcita Thompson and at right is former Boston Braves player Sibby Sisti. (Courtesy of Bill Nowlin)

SABR Board President Claudia Perry, center, prepares to throw out the ceremonial first pitch during SABR’s 32nd annual convention on June 28, 2002, at Fenway Park in Boston. At left is Boston Red Sox executive Marcita Thompson and at right is former Boston Braves infielder Sibby Sisti. (Courtesy of Bill Nowlin)

Originally published: May 24, 2024. Last Updated: May 24, 2024.