Saturday, May 28, 2016

A video interview: Jerry Mehlisch on the 1953 Fargo-Moorhead Twins

Last winter, my friend and Viet Nam War veteran, Les Jensen, asked me if I know Jerry Mehlisch. Of course I do! We worked together at Blue Cross/Blue Shield of North Dakota for at least a couple of decades. Although I knew he played on that legendary 1953 Fargo-Moorhead Twins team, a Class C minor league affiliate of the Cleveland Indians, that's about all I knew of my colleague's baseball career.

Les wanted Jerry to sign a baseball for his brother, apparently an even more avid collector of baseball knowledge and memorabilia than Les (if that's possible!). So, I called the former pro catcher and asked if we could come over to his house in Fargo and shoot a video interview. I wanted to cover some of his recollections about the F-M Twins and the team's star players who went on to the major leagues. He answered in the affirmative and Les came up with some "inside baseball" questions for the interview and we were off to the races..more specifically to Barnett Field in the land of baseball memories. Barnett in Fargo, North Dakota, was the Twins' home field for many years, after moving across the Red River from a diamond in Moorhead, Minnesota.

Principal photography (as they say in Hollywood) was done in two sessions, the first on January 28, 2016, and the second was done a few weeks later. Then, it took this would-be "Steven Spielberg" no less than six months to finish the editing or "post production" in movie jargon. For you computer fans, I did the editing in Adobe Premiere Elements 13.

Jerry's wife, Shari, was most helpful in retrieving a number of the photos you'll see in the video. And she sent me this background on Jerry:

"He's an Iowa farm boy who lived his dream of playing pro baseball after signing a contract in 1950 with the Cleveland Indians organization. This was one year after surviving polio. (Jerry was one of the lucky ones during that horrible epidemic, prior to Dr. Jonas Salk's discovery of a vaccine)

"After his pro years from 1951-54, Jerry attended Moorhead State University, now Minnesota State University Moorhead and, to date, he still holds the highest batting average record in the school's baseball history. After college, as an educator and coach, Jerry continued to pass along his love of the game and inspire others. He and Pat Maris (Roger's widow) visit yearly at the Roger Maris Charity Golf Tournament and he remains friends with one of the sport's greatest pitchers, Jim 'Mudcat' Grant."

If you have any comments on the video, please email them to me at - although I don't include the capability for direct comments on this blog, I will publish your comments in a later post.

The 16-minute result of this project is now posted on YouTube and available for viewing by clicking here.