“I would, if the kids ask me,” he said. “I’m just so much older than them. I think it’s been so long, not many people remember me.”
Whet said there is only one person whose opinion matters.
“My first-year manager Woody Huyke, whatever he said about me, I would take to the grave,” Merchant said. “No other manager saw me at the best of my abilities.”
Huyke gave his take in an interview with the Post-Gazette in August 1987.
“If Ken Griffey (Jr.) has more ability, he must be one hell of a player,” he said. “(Merchant is) a front-line prospect, one of the better ones I’ve ever seen. I didn’t see Mickey Mantle when he was 18 years old, but Mark has all the tools to play in the big leagues.”
So about those comparisons? Merchant has heard them.
“Comparing Mark Merchant to Ken Griffey Jr. is like comparing the newspaper guy at your local high school to a Pulitzer Prize winner,” he said.
But as Merchant sees it, it’s not that simple. That’s why he defends himself.
“It’s bulls—,” he said. “There were things I could do on a baseball field that I didn’t see anyone else do. I wouldn’t trade my ability with anyone I saw.
“I can’t compare to someone with over 600 home runs. When I had my ability at 18, we were comparable. I only played a half season where I was injury free. It’s something I really don’t talk to anybody about.”