Oscar Mercado, a major-league center fielder and professional owner of Skip Bayless, is set to have his number retired at Gaither High School this Saturday, Feb. 8.
Sat Feb 8, 2020, We are retiring #13 which current @Indians & former @GaitherBaseball @Osc_merc wore in HS. Event begins @ 12p & the BLUE GREY game following. Show your support for Oscar & your Cowboys as we get ready for our #RoadToStates2020 #GaitherBaseball #ForTheG #WhyNotUs pic.twitter.com/VocTySNKXW— Gaither Baseball (@GaitherBaseball) February 2, 2020
It’s not uncommon for high schools to somehow memorialize athletes who make it big in any sport, but Mercado is special to Gaither High School and the Tampa area. Even after being drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals in 2013, he never truly left the Tampa area or the school he grew up playing baseball in.
From Alex Hooper’s piece on Mercado’s hometown connections last April:
Now on the precipice of reaching the highest level with the Indians following a trade midway through the 2018 season, Mercado is known by the majority of the current Cowboys roster as more than a famous alumnus. The future big leaguer still frequents the grounds that will soon bear his name and number, en route to putting them there officially, even if he will assuredly not be wearing No. 12 when he makes his major league debut.
One could even say that Mercado’s debut and success on the field would never have happened without revamping his swing and the work he put in at Gaither High School, even as a professional athlete in the Indians organization. According to Gaither’s assistant/director of baseball operations, Hunter Henderson, Mercado would spend five or six days a week working at the facilities in the offseason. Always working to get better.
“In high school, he was the first one here, one of the last people to leave,” Henderson said, “he got out of school early, and he was here about 12:30 every day.”
In 115 games with the Indians in 2019, Mercado slashed .269/.318/.443 with 15 home runs and 15 stolen bases. He played well enough as a rookie to earn an everyday spot in center field and figures to be in the mix as one of the team’s starting outfielders in 2020.
Mercado’s retired number will hang forever on Frank Permuy Park’s right field fence alongside Chad Zerbe’s No. 12, Frank Permuy’s No. 7, Chris Jones’ No. 4, and Tampa Bay Rays manager Kevin Cash’s No. 12.