Merrill Baseball HOF honors new inductees


Throwing out the first pitch of the game.

On July 7, 2023 at Merrill’s Athletic Park, past legendary players for the Merrill High School Baseball Team, were inducted into the Merrill Baseball Hall of Fame.
Three individual players, one of whom was also a coach, were recognized: Eric Dayton, Erik Finanger, and Roger Wendorf.
In addition, the Merrill High School (MHS) Baseball Team of 1965 was honored and inducted into the Hall of Fame.
Eric Dayton made the high school pitching record book in 2004 going 5-1, pitching 44 innings in five complete games, after breaking the growth plate in his pitching arm at practice in 2002 and being told he would never pitch again. He was named to the All-Conference Team as Pitcher in 2003, All District 2nd Team Pitcher, Hurler of the Year for Merrill Senior High, and named Athlete of the Week by the Merrill Foto News, all in 2003 as well. In 2005, he set a single season pitching record and took second in the school’s history for 8 wins and 1 loss in a single season with 66 innings pitched, in 7 complete games, with an ERA of 1.89, and 62 strikeouts.
In his career at MHS, Dayton’s career pitching record is 17-2, having pitched 110 innings with an overall ERA of 2.73, with 98 strikeouts. He was third highest in the school’s stat books.
Dayton went on to play for the Wisconsin American Legion All Star North Team, as starting pitcher during the game at Miller Park; at Marian University; for the Wisconsin Woodchucks; and for the Sheboygan A’s.
Erik Finanger started out in Little League and was drafted into the Major League and then played for the Senior League. At MHS he played baseball and went to the state tournament in 1976 and 1977. And at the college level, he played baseball for two years for Luther College.
Many in the community, this writer included, will remember Roger Wendorf as their physical education teacher. But before that, Wendorf grew up playing Little League on the J.C.’s team, then in the Lincoln County Little Leauge, and at age 16, on the Henrich’s Club Hardball Team. During high school, he played for MHS and also played American Legion Baseball. Wendorf was a catcher.
During college, Wendorf was a co-captain on the UW-Madison Wrestling Team.
Wendorf returned to Merrill to teach physical education in 1973. He also became a coach, coaching football, baseball, softball, and wrestling. Under his leadership, the wrestling team won two back-to-back State titles, and Merrill participated in back-to-back State Tournaments in 1976 and 1977.
The MHS Baseball Team of 1965 were named Wisconsin Valley Champions after they won against Stevens Point in a 7-3 victory. They ended that season with an overall record of 8-3 under the leadership of Coach Ron Sterr. Team members included Phil Dettmering, Jim Wendland, Daryl Berndt, Mike Wissen, Phil Schaefer, Scott Baumgart, John Westfall, John Gryskiewicz, Greg Ament, Jim Olson, Terry Doering, Bob Klug, Mort Sukow, and Ron Briggs.

The members of the Merrill High School Baseball Team, 1965 Wisconsin Valley Champions who won the title with a 7-3 victory over Stevens Point, who were inducted into the Merrill Baseball Hall of Fame.
2023 inductees into the Merrill Baseball Hall of Fame, from L to R: Roger Wendorf, Erik Finanger, and Eric Dayton.

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