Merk not forgotten
For those who go out to Carson High School’s Ron McNutt Field on Friday, it won’t take long to detect the scent of hot dogs and hamburgers on the barbecue grill. You should also get to see a couple of pretty good baseball games when the Carson Senators host the Wooster Colts in a double header between Sierra League championship contenders.
It’s just what Merk would have wanted.
Known simply as “Merk,” you always knew when baseball was being played at Carson High School because Merrill R. Human would be there. No matter the weather. No matter who was playing. He simply loved to watch the game.
Human, a 21-year Carson City resident, passed away on Dec. 22, 2001, at Carson-Tahoe Hospital but he isn’t forgotten. Carson baseball — a program that proclaimed him as its No. 1 fan — will pay tribute by hosting “Merk Human Scholarship Night” on Friday, a twilight double header scheduled to start at 5 p.m. All proceeds from the concessions, barbecue and 50-50 raffle will go toward the Merk Human Baseball Scholarship, which will be presented to a senior player on Carson’s team later this season.
“This is Merk’s night — it’s our way of showing that we miss him — and we want it to be a fun night,” Carson coach Ron McNutt said. “Everything we do that night, the proceeds are going to one of our seniors in his name, and I think he would want it that way.”
In the last 21 years, Merk’s only absence from any practice or game was because of illness.
A smile came to the face of senior shortstop Carl Winter when he was asked about Merk.
“We miss him. He knew a lot about the game and he was just a fun guy to talk to,” Winter said. “He would always come out and make conversation with me before or during practice.”
McNutt vividly remembers days when he would sit in the stands at Carson’s ball park, watch the water on the field and talk about baseball. Those memories are what will make Friday night so special.
“We’ll have the barbecue going, we’ll have hot dogs, Polish dogs, Italian sausage, chili and hamburgers, you know, the things that need to go with a baseball game. Merk would have been right out there helping cook those burgers, and eating a few, too.”
Here’s a few particulars about the man:
He was born Nov. 5, 1931, in Detroit, Mich., to William John and Mary Blanche.
He graduated from Holland High School, Holland, Mich., in 1950.
He met and married his wife Sandra in Holland.
Before moving to Carson City, he lived in Michigan and Ohio and played some semipro baseball for the Detroit Tigers organization.
He served as a corporal during the Korean War, playing the saxophone in the Army band. He was in the entertainment business for more than 24 years and had his own band.
He worked a production control manager for Holland Die Casting in Holland, making parts for Chrysler Corp. for 24 years until moving to Nevada in 1980. He worked as a casino host at the Eldorado Hotel and Casino in Reno for six years.
The scholarship recipient will be determined by the staff at Carson High, based on the attributes that Merk believed most important in a player — hustle, heart, an attitude to work for the good of the team, and all the while maintaining good grades in the classroom. The winner will be announced on May 2 during pregame ceremonies for Carson’s 6:30 p.m. “Senior Night” game against Reno.
McNutt remembers how Merk would come out and evaluate the Senators at the start of every season.
“Merk always came out at the beginning of the year and would watch our practice, then go home and come back the next day and he’d tell me, ‘Coach, I got your record down. This is what I think the team is going to do this year.’ He would always write that down, and then at the end of the season, sure enough, he was pretty close all the time,” McNutt said.
You can bet Merk would have been at the ball park to watch Carson and Wooster play in a three-game series that begins on Thursday with a 3:30 p.m. game at Wooster.
“He would be fired up because he knows that Wooster’s got a really sound ball club and that for us to stay in it, we need to get as many as we can from Wooster,” McNutt said.
Whether it was a varsity or J.V. game, Merk always seemed to be fired up about any baseball game at Carson.
“He would get upset when we lost because he was so involved with the program,” Winter said. “He was just a true fan of Carson High baseball. He was the first guy here and the last to leave.”
Merk was always there for the young players.
“He was just great for the kids,” McNutt said. “He felt that he was part of the team. He’d help us with barbecuing when we had barbecues, he’d help us with raffles, and he would make Linda (Mattox) happy at the concession stand buying hot dogs, Cokes and popcorn. He wouldn’t buy just for himself, he’d buy for anybody who walked up there and didn’t have a dime. Merk was always right there to do something for someone.”
Memorial contributions may be made to the Merk Human Baseball Scholarship, c/o Carson High School, 1111 N. Saliman Road, Carson City 89701.
Dave Price is a sports writer for the Nevada Appeal