An unacknowledged hero-John Myers

By: 
DANE FUELLING
Sports Editor

Growing, up my grandfather was my hero. I wanted to be just like him. He farmed, he played ball, he never missed church on Sunday and I never ever saw him lose his cool. The opportunity to do anything sports related with him was the highlight of the week for young Dane.
Occasionally when I was really lucky, I would get to go to Villa Lanes to watch grandpa bowl with his friends in the men’s league. That’s where I first met John Myers.
John passed away the other day and when I sat down and processed the news, I thought about just how lucky I was to be able to spend time watching him compete in his later years and to listen to the stories about his younger years.
Before Villa Lanes switched to the automated computer scoring system they still use today, it was always John who kept score for the team, sponsored by Fleurdale mobile homes. He played alongside three other heroes in my life, Don Gerke, Gerry Mishler, and Dale Busick. He taught me how to keep track and I marveled at his abilities, throwing multiple 300 perfect games in his lifetime. On those nights I was lucky enough to tag along, I would live and breathe the matches and root my heart out for those guys.
They weren’t heroes because of what they did at the bowling alley, however, although I loved spending time there watching them, but instead because of their accomplishments on the softball diamond. Every one of them was either in the Hall of Fame for the Lutheran Men’s Fastpitch League or still playing, as Don Gerke did until he was practically 80. My childhood summers were spent watching the Fuelling Aces battle Bingen and Union and Flatrock, and even though I never saw John or Dale Busick or Don Christianer play, the fact that they were in the Hall of Fame was enough for me to consider them in the same breath as Lou Gehrig and the Babe.
Floyd John Myers was born in 1937. He, like my grandfather, lived in the same house from the time he was a toddler until the day he died. That house was just two miles from mine and when I was really lucky, my grandfather, in a truly rare act, would use the telephone and ask my mother if it was ok if I could go fishing at John’s pond with him.
I was an admirer of John from a young age. He had a deep voice that sounded different from anyone I knew and a seriousness that matched his competitiveness. When the bowling alley stuck the men’s league on Friday nights, John and his crew said that was enough and decided to switch their weekly Thursday get-together to a calmer game, pidro.
Perhaps one of the more obscure parts of growing up in northern Adams county is learning how to play this bid card game, but it was something that John excelled at. By the time John and his crew gave up bowling and switched to playing cards, I would relish in the phone call from Gerry Mishler, asking if I wanted to be one of the lucky ones who would serve as a substitute to make 12 players, or three tables, at the Legion.
Playing with John was not for the faint of heart. He was serious and he expected you to pay attention. If you didn’t count how many trump were left, he’d let you know you should have. But if I played well and you won, I always had a Pepsi with my name on it after we were done.
It wasn’t until I started playing cards with John and his brother, Harry, that I realized that both had been stars on some of the greatest basketball teams Adams County ever saw.
The Monmouth Eagles won four straight basketball sectionals from 1953 to 1956. John was a part of three of those teams. Having started a year later in school, he was ineligible by the time he was a senior, having turned 20 in January of his senior year. Had he played a full senior season, he probably would have made it to 1000 points, but it was Johnny’s rebounding that complemented the greatest single-season performance the county had ever seen to that point, Norb Witte’s 692 points in 1956. The team won 24 games that year, beating Decatur 72-71 in the championship game at the Adams Central gymnasium. John scored six points in that final game and had the honor of playing at the Coliseum in the regional.
It was Witte who convinced him to come to our church, where he eventually met Carolyn Scherer, his future bride. More importantly, for my childhood self, it put him on a path to be one of my grandfather’s best friends.
At 15 years old, it was hard for me to fathom that a guy could roll a perfect 300 game, hit the ball well enough to make the softball hall of fame, score points by the hundreds for an elite basketball team, and always have a pete when you needed one the most on a seven bid. Turns out, that man did exist and his name was Floyd John Myers. Rest in Peace.

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