TAZEWELL, Va. — Tazewell baseball coach Lucian “Lou” Peery, for whom the high school’s baseball stadium was named, was a big man with a big heart.
Right now, the Tazewell community is feeling an enormous loss.
On Wednesday the 72-year-old Peery passed away at his home.
Peery, an Emory & Henry alumnus, coached the Tazewell High School baseball team from 1979 to 2004, taking a hiatus for heath reasons. He resumed the reins in 2006 and continued to coach the Bulldogs program until he retired after the 2013 season. After his retirement, Peery regularly attended Bulldogs games at his namesake field when health permitted.
Peery coached more than 400 victories at Tazewell, leading the Bulldogs to 10 Southwest District regular season and tournament titles, seven Coppinger Invitational Tournament crowns, a pair of Region IV championships and five VHSL state baseball tournament appearances.
A consummate teacher of the game of baseball, Peery had numerous players advance to play in the college ranks. He had five who advanced their baseball careers to the professional level: Billy Wagner, who was drafted by the Houston Astros in 1993 and went on to attain All-Star status in the majors; Zak Wasilewski, who was drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays, Jack Compton, who signed as a free agent with the Astros; Trey Lambert, who played for Liberty University and eventually signed as a free agent with the Texas Rangers organization and most recently Chase Illig, who was picked up by the New York Yankees this past spring after an illustrious career at West Virginia University.
The affection Peery’s former players retained for their old coach is a matter of legend.
In a Bluefield Daily Telegraph story by Larry Hypes, Wagner famously declared “Well, I would put Jesus above Coach Peery, but that’s about it.”
The family will receive friends from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Monday at the Peery & St. Clair Funeral Home in Tazewell, Va. Funeral services will be conducted on Tuesday at 11 a.m. at the funeral home.
In lieu of flowers, Peery’s family has requested that memorial contributions be made to Tazewell Baseball Boosters.