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Sports >  Spokane Indians

Longtime area sports figure Ken Merkel dies at age 78

From Staff Reports

Ken Merkel, a major figure in the Spokane-area sports scene for four decades, died last week. He was 78.

From the 1960s to the end of the century, Merkel was involved with the Spokane Indians baseball team, the Greater Spokane Sports Association, Playfair racetrack and the State B basketball tournament.

“He certainly loved sports,” Barbara Merkel, his wife of 58 years, said Monday.

Merkel was born on June 26, 1936. He grew up on a farm near Edwall, Washington, then moved to Spokane in his youth. He graduated from Lewis and Clark High School in 1953.

Merkel’s business background – he worked for many years at Layrite Products – led him in 1966 to work first as ticket manager and later business manager for the Los Angeles Dodgers’ Triple-A affiliate in Spokane.

He and former Dodgers owner Peter O’Malley were close friends, Barbara Merkel said.

After leaving the Dodgers, Merkel worked part-time at Playfair until the early 1980s.

Merkel was active in the Greater Spokane Sports Association’s annual banquet, receiving its third Dick Pratt Award in 1989 and being named to the Scroll of Honor in 1985.

Last year, he was an honoree on the Rim of Honor at Avista Stadium.  

A funeral service will be held on April 17 at 1 p.m. at Heritage Funeral Home, 508 N. Government Way in Spokane.

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