The Next Inning

Mickey Shader, the well-known scout for the Cincinnati Reds, didn't forget how well Bernie had played in the Washington State tournament. He had seen many ball players in his day, and had a sharp eye for talent. There were not as many opportunities to play in professional ball clubs at that time as there are today, so Shader demanded hustle on the ball field and was selective in his picks.  Shader thought that Bernie had the skills needed to advance further in his career. His numerous letters to Bernie document how he mentored the young man to support him in getting started in the minor leagues.

Bernie took Shader's advice and headed south to the training camp in Medford, Oregon. Although 600 youths would participate in the various camps, only 20 would be selected to continue on the the Arizona farm team.

The local press didn't let Bernie's trip to the training camp slip by. Two Sign for Baseball School headlined the sports page. The article noted that "two Eastern Washington league baseball players have been signed to attend the Cincinnati baseball school in Medford, Oregon. It described Bernie as "State hospital's hard-hitting shortstop." It reported that... "he played in 21 games for the hospital team and ended with a batting average of .404. He also heads the league in scoring with 25 runs to his credit."

Bernie's reputation was spreading. the folks back at home in the San Francisco bay area could follow his progress in the local sports pages. The November 15, 1936 San Francisco Examiner reported "A guy must have something on the ball before Mickey Shader, Cincinnati scout, starts tossing bouquets. Shader never goes overboard for a baseball player unless he has the goods. Shader is predicting big things for Bernard Mayer, shortstop from Oakland, who did some playing in Spokane, Washington last season. 'I've seen lots of shortstops," says Mickey, "but this Mayer looks mighty sweet to me."

He played in about 50 games during the past summer and hit .404 in the East Washington league.

 

Bernie did well at the baseball camp in Medford and was handed a contract to report the following spring to the training camp for the Cincinatti Reds farm team, the Bisbee Bees.

 

 A few weeks later, the December 6, 1936 San Francisco Examiner sport page ran subtitle Tout Mayer with the feature noting... "Bernie Mayer, an Oakland boy who has been signed by the Cincinnati Reds, is touted highly by those in the know. A shortstop by trade, Mayer has a strong arm and hits well. While playing in Spokane this season in the East Washington league, Mayer batted .404 to lead his team to the pennant. He is a former St. Mary's High School boy.

News clip with details about the Cincinnati Reds recruitment efforts.
Oakland Tribune
January 31, 1937
"Bunny" should make quite a ball player up there in a few years, as he has the natural ability. Another story in the same paper that month gave more background on Bernie's baseball career: Bernard "Bunny" Mayer is another Oakland boy who has made good in baseball. Love for baseball has earned him a contract with the Cincinnati club and he will report in the near future. Bunny liked the game so much that six years ago he used to hike all the way from High Street in East Oakland to St. Mary's Church at Seventh and Jefferson to play for Father Leo Powleson's Midgets.
Bernie always feared he never would get big enough to become a shortstop in organized baseball. One day an opportunity came for him to play for the State Hospital team at Spokane and he jumped at it. He played for that team the past two years and recently returned to Oakland to be signed by Mickey Shader. Mayer's now around 160 pounds and attirbutes his gain in weight to working with State Hospital and going through special exercises."
At a baseball awards dinner where Bernie was honored, he recalled in his speech how Father Powleson, the St. Mary's coach, had encouraged him to continue playing baseball and helped foster his love for the game. Bernie said, "Father Powleson grabbed us off one by one as we got better. We were a team and loved to play baseball."
Note: Father Powelson and Monsieur McElroy started the Catholic Youth Organization (CYO).
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