The Muhlenberg A's Baseball Club lost an iconic member of its 50 year tradition Sunday morning as Donald R. Yerger Sr. passed away at the age of 82. Donny will be remembered for his passion for the game and the impact he made in so many players' lives. I could tell you all the obvious things about Donny . . . how he was loved or how he loved. How he cherished his time with his friends and family up until his final days. The difference he made in so many people's lives in this community.
But, I want to speak from my heart. I want to share with you the Donny that was in my life.
Donny was the definition of a "Class Act"
I met Coach Donny in 1987 as a 15-year old player for the Temple A's. Needless to say, I was intimidated by everyone and everything especially our coaching staff. But the one thing I could count on is that if I ever needed to talk to someone about how I was feeling or how nervous I was, I could always go to Coach Donny. He listened and taught me how to handle adversity. Coach had a way to make me refocus on the positive and maintain my confidence that I did belong playing at this level.
As my years of playing Legion baseball proceeded, absolutely nothing changed when it came who I could count on. The conversations and advice I needed might have spread from baseball to girls and life issues but he just knew what to say. It was like having another father in my life. Years passed and I got back into the organization in the late 90's . . . who was still there? . . . Donny. Coach was a board member and actively doing anything and everything he could to make sure the organization stayed at a high level. In 2000 when the A's won its State Championship, I remembered Coach Donny coming up to me to tell me that this is the highlight of his life. He said, "It's all he ever wanted for Coach (Gochnauer)." Ladies and Gentleman, that's what we call SELFLESS.
In 2007, I was welcomed back as the Junior Legion head coach and you guessed it . . . their was Donny. However, he was now the "voice" of the A's. Coach moved himself up to the press box as he announced the games for both the Junior Legion and Senior Legion. I think it was the first time I heard his wonderful rendition of "take me out to the ballgame". You should have watched the players in the dugout. Whether we were winning or losing, they stood up and most sang it with him. He simply put a smile on your face every time you saw or heard him. I think I'll miss that the most. But don't get it twisted...I'll never forget that voice and all that knowledge. Ladies and Gentleman, this is what we call RESPECT.
In 2009, I became the Senior Legion baseball coach for the Muhlenberg A's. Donny was still our voice and his side kick Ed Lloyd did the scoreboard. That's one vision that will never go away. Looking up at that press box and seeing both of them with Jim Sheipe Sr. sitting on what looked to be a captains chair. Boy those three guys loved baseball. They loved the A's. Sometimes they weren't paying attention but I didn't mind. Three guys, best of friends, looking to solve the worlds problems and none of them had a clue what the count was or who was up. Donny did one thing better than most. He supported you and cared for you unconditionally. . . Ladies and Gentleman, we call this LOVE.
My heart hurts today and has since the passing of my coach and friend. Donny was someone I admired and loved for so long. I hope when he gets to heaven, he immediately looks up Coach Gochnauer and they do it again. I'll see you soon guys . . . by the way, I'll be the heavy set kid that likes to play catcher. I promise that I will play my balls off for both of you if you give me an opportunity.