|Softball Hall of Fame beckons Merv Eischens|
The telephone rang in the Mervin Eischens home and the lady on the other end told him he was selected to the Minnesota Sports Federation’s Softball Hall of Fame.
“Who put me in for that?” was his first question.
The answer: your grandsons.
That thought brings a smile to his lips every time he tells the story.
“I couldn’t believe it. I was so surprised,” said Eischens.
He was named as a manager, sponsor, promoter from St. Leo.
They left out player — and you don’t leave that out.
“I played all my life,” says Eischens.
In fact, the last game he played was at the age of 70.
Eischens will be inducted at the 26th annual banquet on Friday, October 22 at the Monterey Ballroom in Owatonna.
Thirteen others will join him as they enter the Hall of Fame.
When he was told he was nominated by “The Panka boys” he replied … “And they’re my grandsons,” laughed Eischens.
In fact, he’s been helping raise funds for the Special Olympics for five years and last fall took a team that included his grandsons to the Metrodome in Minneapolis.
“We raised $5,000 and came in first,” he said. In the six years he’s gone his teams have raised $10,000 for special Olympics.
Now 81, it all began for Eischens as a youth. He played baseball and softball and even played softball in Japan while in the U. S. Army.
“We only lost one game during the time I was there,” he said.
That team went on to win the championship in Japan. “They sent me the trophy, but it was broken,” he laughed.
For nine years he played on amateur baseball teams in Canby, Porter and Minneota.
Then in 1963 he turned his attention to fast pitch softball and was a fast pitcher for 10 years. “Nobody had good pitcher so I took to pitching,” he said. When fastpitch began to wane he turned his attention to slow pitch.
He’s proud of the fact he has five grandsons who love to play the game. “That was a thrill,” he said about coaching a team with his grandsons on the squad.
Mervin and wife Velma raised seven daughters and one son. A son, John, died in 1970. “I thought he would be my replacement,” he said.
Over the years Eischens farmed, ran his own insurance agency and managed the Canby Credit Union for 20 years.
But there was always time for softball.
When his playing days waned, he turned to “sponsoring and managing,” but softball stayed in his blood.
In between the rather large family, his business and softball, Mervin Eischens found a little time to serve as mayor of St. Leo — which he did for 41 years.
During that time he missed just four meetings and had perfect attendance at the Canby Rotary Club, of which he’s been a part for 32 years. Today, he shows up at Minneota Rotary meetings when he needs a “makeup” to maintain his rather lengthy record.
Mervin played softball in the dome in 1988, 1992, 1998, 2000 and 2002 and joined his grandsons at the Dome in 2009.
If he had one philosophy with his players over the years it was, “I never chewed them out. Other coaches wondered why I didn’t yell at them and I’d say, they already feel bad. They know what they did.”
“I wish I’d kept a list of players over the years,” he said. And he wished he knew how many games he’s played and coached. But he doesn’t.
Softball will always be in his blood — so getting this award has special significance to Mervin.
When they hand him his Hall of Fame award in a couple of weeks you know, somewhere amongst the accolades will be, “Well done, Mervin. We’re proud of you!”