How Mervis hopes to turn tees into fields

June 12th, 2023

This story was excerpted from Jordan Bastian’s Cubs Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here. And subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.

CHICAGO -- Rare is the rookie who arrives in the big leagues with a nickname in tow. An exception was , whose slugging exploits in the Minors had Cubs fans embracing the “Mash Mervis” moniker with every hype-fueling homer.

Mervis has shown flashes of that power potential in the Majors -- he sent a shot splashing into McCovey Cove on Saturday in San Francisco -- and he has had fun with the nickname, too. This past week, the first baseman launched a partnership with the Israel national team on a charitable line of shirts with “Mash Mervis” across the chest in Hebrew.

“It's a great cause to help grow the game in Israel,” Mervis said at Angel Stadium on Thursday, “and try to build some fields over there.”

Mervis noted that proceeds from the sales will help fund the building of baseball fields in Israel. That aspect of the project thrilled the 25-year-old Mervis, who suited up for Team Israel in the World Baseball Classic during the spring in honor of his grandmother, Tina.

His grandmother lived in the city of Giv'atayim in Israel before coming to the United States. Mervis pointed out that Peter Kurz, the general manager of Team Israel, along with some of the players and staff, also come from the same hometown.

“I need to get to that area and explore,” Mervis said.

Mervis speaks highly of his Classic experience on multiple fronts.

“I learned a lot,” he said. “Just talking to everybody and learning more about the culture and life in Israel and things that my grandmother grew up with.”

Beyond playing in memory of his grandmother, it was an opportunity for Mervis to face high-level pitching in a pool featuring Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Venezuela and Nicaragua. Mervis got to play for manager Ian Kinsler, work with hitting coach Kevin Youkilis and pick the brain of a big leaguer like Joc Pederson.

Mervis said there were also lessons to be gained from entering the World Baseball Classic as underdogs and cherishing the 3-1 victory over Nicaragua. 

“Learning how to bounce back and be resilient,” Mervis said. “We weren't favored there by any means. The bracket was tough. So, it was just understanding that, no matter what the matchup is or what the expectations are, internally, we can go out there and compete every day and learn from the guys we're playing against and within our own locker room.”