Why Matt Mervis’ debut meant just as much to his family as it did for him
In his office, Jeffrey Mervis has a collection of baseball memorabilia — there are jerseys and bats and gloves littered around him.
His most prized piece yet is coming.
The father of a now-big leaguer will soon be receiving a baseball that was his son, Matt’s first big-league hit, a 111-mph RBI single to center field in the 8th inning of the Cubs’ 4-1 win over the Marlins in his big-league debut.
“I know he presents that stuff proudly in his office,” Matt Mervis, the Cubs’ first baseman said Friday afternoon. “So, I hope that will join the rest of his stuff.”
On Friday at Wrigley Field, Jeffrey Mervis was in attendance for his son’s debut and was wearing Matt’s Cubs jersey that he wore last fall in the Arizona Fall League.
Friday was always meant to be a special day for Mervis.
On Thursday, his mom, Ellen Van Bergen, was en route to Columbus, Ohio, to watch Matt and the Iowa Cubs take on the Clippers. As she got to the airport to fly to Ohio, Matt Mervis called her and told her he was going to have to change flights.
“I don’t think she believed me for a second,” Mervis said. “It was hard to hear her get emotional and not get emotional myself.”
Matt’s parents always tried — in the pros and in college at Duke — to be at his games no matter how near or far they were.
“They’ve been extremely supportive for 20 years of baseball and with travel and hotels and flights,” Mervis said.
This game would be no different — they would be there, even if it meant a last-minute flight change.
“They had a long travel day yesterday, but made it happen,” Mervis said.
His parents and girlfriend were at Wrigley Field, as he took his first at-bat with the 31,181 in attendance giving him an ovation. They were there at the end of the 8th inning when Mervis walked over near the Cubs dugout on the third-base side and received another ovation from the Wrigley Field faithful.
“I took a second to look up in the crowd and take that one in,” Mervis said. “I think I got chills. Teammates were going crazy, the crowd was going crazy, so that one was special.”
And they were there after the game when Mervis caught up with them to snap pictures and commemorate a once-in-a-lifetime day.
“It was a lot of fun,” Mervis said. “It meant a lot to me that they were able to be here and share that with me.”