BLOOMINGTON, Ind. – The chance to oversee the program he long admired is one of a lifetime for Jeff Mercer.
“As a player, growing up locally I always wanted to have an opportunity to play at Indiana and I wasn’t good enough as a player,” the former Wright State first baseman said. “So getting into coaching, ultimately I wanted to be good enough to have a chance to come back and lead this program.”
It’s a homecoming for Mercer, who grew up in Bargersville, the oldest of four boys, and as a kid has memories of the old Sembower Field when his dad was a Hoosiers’ assistant.
“Growing up watching my dad coach here, seeing where the program has come from Sembower Field to here and the facilities and the investment, and now to bring those things together and to hopefully culminate in championships and advance ourselves in the tournament really is a special feeling and opportunity.”
It's been a whirlwind two weeks for the Mercer family. The day after interviewing in Bloomington, the former Wright State head coach rushed back to Dayton to bring home his son from the NICU decked out proudly in cream and crimson.
"The day I was on the interview my wife calls and says, 'They just said that we are going to bring home Grady tomorrow,' and I said, ‘Hang on, yesterday they said it was going to be two weeks,’” Mercer explained. Grady was born June 20, six weeks early.
“It was a bit crazy, but we were also very fortunate to be able to have him come home a couple weeks early and obviously the job. There wasn't a lot of sleep. My phone died like three times that day. I had 450 text messages that day and like 30 voice mails, so it was an exciting time."
With Grady coming home coinciding with his own Hoosier homecoming, the new father already looks forward to making more father-son memories in a new era of Indiana baseball.
“I do look forward to bringing my son on the field and playing catch and I do look forward to taking him hunting and fishing and doing a lot of the things that my dad did with me and being able to do it here at home is more than I ever could have hoped or wished for."