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Panthers to Pirates, Taloga's Jordy Mercer proud of where he came from

Bryan Painter: Jordy Mercer, of Taloga, Oklahoma, and the Pittsburgh Pirates are playoff bound in Major League Baseball.
by Bryan Painter Modified: September 29, 2013 at 10:00 pm •  Published: September 29, 2013

/articleid/3887518/1/pictures/2223774">Photo - Pittsburgh Pirates shortstop Jordy Mercer (10) warms up on-deck at PNC Park during a baseball game against the Milwaukee Brewers on May 15, 2013 in Pittsburgh. <strong>Gene J. Puskar - ASSOCIATED PRESS</strong>
Pittsburgh Pirates shortstop Jordy Mercer (10) warms up on-deck at PNC Park during a baseball game against the Milwaukee Brewers on May 15, 2013 in Pittsburgh. Gene J. Puskar - ASSOCIATED PRESS

“It blew my mind, it really did. It was something really special.”

In his hometown, Jordy played not only fall and spring baseball, and basketball in between, but also showed Poland China hogs. He had the breed champion barrow at the Tulsa State Fair during the same time of year as the fall baseball playoffs.

Then and now

Coby Nelson, now superintendent of Vici Public Schools, was Mercer's baseball coach through school. He laughed when asked about the first time he coached Mercer.

“Well, the first time I really coached him was probably when he was 8 years old on a 10-under team,” Nelson said. “But I was actually the coach-pitcher for his team when he was about 5.”

Nelson also coached Mercer from seventh grade through his senior year. The teams Mercer played with in high school probably had 12 to 15 players. They went to several fall and spring state tournaments. And they won the 2004 spring state championship and finished as runners-up that fall.

“What really personified Jordy was his leadership,” Nelson said. “Just because they were a freshman on the team, didn't mean they were any less a part of that team. He treated everyone like his best friend.”

The 2004 state title added to previous success including state championships in fall 1996, spring 1997 and fall 1997. A few years after Mercer graduated, the numbers of students got to the point where Taloga didn't have enough players for its own team. They joined with another small school program for a baseball team for awhile.

‘Where he comes from'

After Jordy was drafted by the Pirates in June 2008 out of Oklahoma State University, the Mercers sold their seismic drilling company.

Traveling in an RV, they attended all games while he was at OSU. But with the business sold, they decided to devote a little more time to wheat and cattle — and of course going to games.

During baseball season, the Mercers usually come home to plant wheat, harvest wheat and work the ground. A hired hand takes over while they're gone.

However, there was a time baseball delayed harvest.

Rick was harvesting hard red winter wheat late last May when Tammy drove up. Jordy had been called up to the major leagues.

“I got off the combine and we hopped a plane out of Oklahoma City early the next morning,” Rick said.

They watched a few games, including May 30, 2012, when Jordy got his first major league hit.

“I'm sitting there seeing what had been his dream since he was a T-ball player,” Tammy said. “You know you think about all those nights the lights were on over here at the high school field and seeing him play, and now you see him playing under the lights on a major league field. As a parent, you are beyond proud and feel very blessed.”

But beyond proud extends beyond the field.

“He's such a good person, that's the core of what I think has made him,” Rick said. “A scout asked me one time, ‘Well what's he going to be? Is he going to be a shortstop or a pitcher?' I said, ‘That'll have to be for you to decide. I can tell you, you'll find better pitchers and better players, but you'll never find a better person. You can take that to the bank.'

“Jordy really believes in his roots and where he comes from.”

by Bryan Painter
Assistant Local Editor
Bryan Painter, assistant local editor, has 31 years’ experience in journalism, including 22 years with the state's largest newspaper, The Oklahoman. In that time he has covered such events as the April 19, 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah...
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