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Lou Merloni hangs up the spikes

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  • Lou Merloni hangs up the spikes

    Former Sox and local boy Lou Merloni has retired after a 15 year baseball career, 9 of them in the majors and 6 with the sox. He was one of my favorite players back in the day and I will never forget those "Louuuuuuuuu" chants.

    On Baseball: So long, Lou
    By Art Davidson/Daily News staff
    Sat Mar 01, 2008, 07:58 PM EST

    Throughout his baseball career, Lou Merloni was known for getting the maximum out of his ability. He was someone who got to fulfil his childhood dream of playing in the major leagues - and for his hometown team - by working hard and doing all the right things, on and off the field.

    Merloni still might be found at Fenway Park in the future, but the Framingham native will be carrying a microphone instead of a bat.

    Recently, Merloni decided that he would retire from baseball. Merloni, who will turn 37 on April 6, intends to pursue some broadcasting opportunities in the Boston area.

    "I talked to a few teams this winter, but nothing was guaranteed," said Merloni. "I really didn't want to spend another season in the minor leagues. I think that would be a step back for me at this stage of my life.

    "Some of the things that might be available to me now in broadcasting might not be there a year from today if I played another season."

    In 2007, Merloni spent the entire season with Sacramento, which is Oakland's Triple A affiliate. The former Framingham South High School and Providence College standout got off to a great start during spring training with the Athletics, but was beaned during an exhibition game and was sidelined for two weeks. Merloni was literally the last player cut by the A's, in part because they needed an experienced first baseman.

    While playing for Sacramento, Merloni developed vertigo as a result of his head injury. It wasn't until June that he was completely healthy.

    Merloni helped the River Cats win the Pacific Coast League championship. He excelled in the playoffs, but was never recalled by Oakland.

    "The A's had fallen out of the race. When the rosters were expanded in September, they wanted to see how some of their young players would do in the major leagues," said Merloni.

    After Sacramento won the PCL title it played Richmond, which captured the International League crown, in Oklahoma City last September in a one-game matchup of the two Triple-A league champions. In what was his final professional game, Merloni hit a three-run homer and drove in another run to lead Sacramento to a victory. He was named the MVP of the nationally televised "Bricktown Showdown."

    During the World Series last October, Merloni worked as an analyst for New England Cable News (NECN).

    "I really enjoyed it," he said. "I discovered that I liked talking about baseball on television."

    Merloni might do more for NECN this year. In addition, Merloni will make his debut as a guest host on WEEI's Big Show Thursday. He'll be in the studio with this show's primary host, Glenn Ordway, and another guest host.

    "That should be fun, I'm looking forward to it," said Merloni.

    Merloni, who got married last November and has a stepdaughter, decided prior to last year that he wouldn't remain in baseball as a coach when he finished playing.

    "I would have to start off in the minor leagues if I became a coach. I've ridden enough buses in my career," he said with a smile.

    Merloni was drafted twice by the Red Sox. He was selected following his junior year at Providence, but opted to return for his senior season. In 1993, Merloni was drafted by the Red Sox once again, in the 10th round.

    After working his way up through Boston's minor league system, Merloni made his debut with the Red Sox on May 10, 1998 in Kansas City. Merloni got his first major league hit on May 14 in Minnesota. In his first game at Fenway Park on May 15, Merloni electrified the capacity crowd by hitting a three-run homer off the Royals' Jose Rosado in his initial at-bat.

    Merloni was serenaded by loud chants of "Lou, Lou" as he circled the bases, something he would hear throughout his career, especially at Fenway Park.

    "The home run was special. It was great that my family and a lot of my friends were at the game. One thing that I'll remember about that day too was how thrilling it was just to put on my Red Sox uniform at Fenway Park," said Merloni.

    In 1999, Merloni got an opportunity to start at shortstop for the Red Sox against Cleveland in the Division Series in place of his close friend, Nomar Garciaparra, who was injured. Merloni went 2-for-6 in three playoff games.

    Merloni began the 2000 season not in the AL East, but in the Far East. He signed during the previous winter to play for Yokohama of Japan's Central League. Things didn't work out for Merloni in Japan. He played in 42 games before requesting and receiving his release. Merloni re-signed with the Red Sox and was back in the major leagues by August.

    For the first time in his career, Merloni wore a major league uniform other than Boston's in 2003. He signed with San Diego as a free agent during the previous offseason. However, he was traded back to Boston in August.

    "I hit a home run in my first game at Fenway Park, but my last game with the Red Sox ended with the home run that (New York's) Aaron Boone hit (to win the ALCS)," said Merloni. "I'll always remember that home run too."

    From 2004-2006, Merloni played for Cleveland, Los Angeles and Cleveland again. He suffered a severe ankle injury in 2005 while playing for the Angels, which required surgery and limited his major league season to just five games.

    In 423 major league games, Merloni compiled a lifetime batting average of .271. He hit 14 home runs and drove in 125 runs.

    Although he now lives on Cape Cod, Merloni still has strong ties to his hometown. The Lou Merloni Foundation made a $35,000 grant to Framingham's school system last September, which lowered by $50 the fee charged to high school athletes.

    "I still want to do things for Framingham, like hold clinics and help out the school system," he said.

    Although Merloni is starting a new chapter of his life, he'll always have vivid memories of the 15 years he spent as a professional baseball player.

    "I've met so many great people and have formed friendships with so many guys who will be my friends forever," said Merloni.

    As for this reporter, I'll never forget being doused by champagne in the clubhouse in Cleveland by Merloni in 1999 after the Red Sox had defeated the Indians in the Division Series. I shared the moment with pride with someone from my hometown.

    Thank you Lou for letting all of us share your journey during the last 15 years.

    (Art Davidson is a Daily News staff writer. He can be reached at [email protected] or 508-626-4403.)

  • #2
    Sad to see a fan favorite hang it up, but he should be proud of a long career played the right way. I wish him the best of luck in the next stage of his career!

    Visit my card site at Mike D's Baseball Card Page.


    • #3
      He does pretty well with NECN, too bad he wasn't hired by NESN though...
      Best posts ever:
      Originally posted by nymdan
      Too... much... math... head... hurts...
      Originally posted by RuthMayBond
      I understand, I lost all my marbles years ago


      • #4
        Originally posted by efin98 View Post
        He does pretty well with NECN, too bad he wasn't hired by NESN though...
        "wasn't" not = "never will be."


        • #5
          Originally posted by Imgran View Post
          "wasn't" not = "never will be."
          Not necessarily.
          Best posts ever:
          Originally posted by nymdan
          Too... much... math... head... hurts...
          Originally posted by RuthMayBond
          I understand, I lost all my marbles years ago


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