Paul Merkel
Paul Merkel
Organization: Whitworth College (WA)
Year: 1985 Inductee

Paul Merkel was a fixture in the Whitworth College department of athletics for more than half a century.

Merkel coached at Whitworth College from 1946-48 and from 1954-90, when he finally "retired" at the age of 67. He led Whitworth to its only team national championship as the head baseball coach in 1960.

Merkel attended Whitworth from 1940-43, lettering in baseball, basketball, football and tennis. He then served in the United States Navy from 1943-46. He completed his B.A. from Whitworth while in the navy in 1944. When discharged, Merkel worked at Whitworth as an assistant coach in football, basketball and baseball from 1946-48.

Merkel returned to his hometown of Sprague, Washington to teach social studies and coach football, basketball and baseball at the high school from 1948-52. From there he moved on to Tonasket High School where he taught math and social studies and was the head baseball coach and assistant football and basketball coach from 1952-54.

Merkel returned to Whitworth to complete his M.A. in physical education. He became the head baseball coach at Whitworth in 1955 and remained as the head coach until 1971. He had a second stint as the head coach during the 1978 and 1979 seasons. His overall record was 233-227-5, leading the Pirates to the 1960 NAIA championship and six total post-season appearances. He was the NAIA District 1 Coach of the Year three times and the Evergreen Conference Coach of the Year twice. He was named the Greater Spokane Sports Association Coach of the Year by the Spokane Writers and Broadcasters in 1960.

His service to Whitworth goes far beyond his accomplishments as baseball coach. He was the director of athletics from 1958-69. He was an assistant football coach on and off from 1946 through 1985. When Whitworth needed a swimming coach for a season in the 1960's, Merkel coached the team. He worked as an assistant basketball coach in the 1950's. He was the sports information director from 1979 until 1990.

Merkel is a member of three other Halls of Fame. He was inducted into the NAIA Hall of Fame in 1971, the Inland Northwest Hall of Fame in 1987 and the Whitworth Heritage Gallery in 1990. In addition, he was the inaugural recipient of the Robert E. Smith Achievement Award in 1997.

Merkel was valuable to baseball in Spokane as an assistant coach with the Spokane Indians (AAA) from 1972-75 and as a grounds-keeper at Indians Stadium from the late 1970's until 1992.

Merkel coached several All-Americans during his tenure, including Ray and Dick Washburn, Tom Ingram and Tom Beall.

Merkel was an active member of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and Whitworth Community Presbyterian Church. He wrote an article, entitled "The Forgotten Relationship," which was published in the FCA magazine in 1964.