jerry_mercerA hard-throwing right-hander who made sports history with five no-hitters, four in succession, Jerry Mercer led the Salem baseball team to a North Egypt Conference championship and to the sectional finals in the state elimination series. Mercer graduated from Salem Community High School in 1956.

Mercer, who had an 11-0 record in regular season action, opened with a 4-0, no-hit victory over Vandalia, striking out 18 batters. He walked one batter that game and then promptly picked him off at first. He next recorded an 8-0 no-hitter over Lawrenceville, also fanning 18. Then came a no-hit, 11-0 win over Centralia, with 13 strikeouts, and a 13-0 no-hitter over Olney, with 10 strikeouts. Both of those games were five-inning affairs. National recognition came after the fourth no-hitter with a two-page spread in Life magazine.

Mercer’s no-hit string was broken in a 3-0 win over Flora, giving up one hit, while striking out 10. He picked up the no-hit binge with a 12-0, five-inning victory over Bridgeport, facing only 15 batters and striking out 13. Over the season, he allowed only 21 hits in 84 innings pitched. Salem had a 16-1-1 record that year (5-0-1 in NEC play) being tied 3-3 by Fairfield. The Wildcats advanced to the sectional final before bowing to Freeburg 5-4.

Mercer began his organized baseball career in Salem Little League program as a pitcher for the 4-H sponsored team. He recorded a 4-0 record as a high school sophomore, with one no-hitter and one one-hitter. During his junior year, he recorded a 9-3 record.

After high school, Mercer signed a contract with the Kansas City Athletics in 1957 and spent his rookie year at Grand Island, Nebraska. He spent one year at Selma, Alabama, two years at Sioux City, Iowa, and played his last year at LeWiston, Idaho. After a very cold spring in Albany, New York, he suffered a back injury from which he never fully recovered. This curtailed his baseball career so he left and entered college. He received a B.Ed. degree from Washburn College in Topeka. He could not play college ball because of his pro career so he served as pitching coach of the Washburn baseball program from 1963 through 1965.

He has worked with juvenile delinquents at the Youth Center of Topeka and the Youth Center at Atchison for over 30 years. For 18 years, he and his wife lived in a cottage with 18 boys plus their own family of four sons and a daughter. He is currently Director of Youth Services over all cottages at the Youth center in Atchison, Kansas, supervising over 100 13 to 16-year-olds and 80 youth service workers.

Mercer was selected State of Kansas Correction Association Employee of the Year in 1982. He has directed the Youth Baseball program, coached American Legion baseball and women’s softball in Atchison.