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A Home Run for Stanford Athletics
Seventy years after he played for Stanford, Jay McKie, '46, is supporting the teams he still follows today.
As the Stanford freshman football squad gathered for practice in the fall of 1942, Jay McKie, '46, saw his chance. Normally the second quarterback, he was playing defense that day, and found himself tracking Lloyd Merriman, '46, a big running back. "He could belt you," McKie recalls, but as Merriman rushed forward, McKie found an angle—and made the tackle. "I whopped him!" says McKie, laughing.
Merriman wasn't down for long—he went on to play professional baseball for the Cincinnati Reds—and the two remained friends. In memory of his classmate, who died in 2004, McKie recently made a gift to the Buck/Cardinal Club. He also gave in memory of two other late classmates: fellow freshman football player Dick Madigan, '46, MBA '49, and Encina Hall roommate Don Bechter, '46.
The gifts were part of more than $175,000 that McKie has designated for student-athletes in recent years, a tribute to the lasting impact of his one action-packed year at Stanford.
When McKie came to Stanford during World War II, he knew he would have only a short time at the Farm before heading to training at the Naval Academy. He made the most of it, "hashing" (serving food) in the dining hall and mowing the chaplain's lawn to help cover his expenses. But the highlights were playing football in the fall and, in the spring, varsity baseball as part of an outstanding group of freshmen.
"We had five starters that year who were freshmen," recalls the former third baseman. Lloyd Merriman was part of that group, too. Another was Bobby Brown, '46, who later played for the Yankees and became president of the American League. He and McKie still keep in touch.
McKie continued to play varsity baseball at the Naval Academy, then joined a carrier and toured Asia, eventually working on submarines. On New Year's Eve 1949 he met Virginia Jones at a dance in Norfolk, Virginia. He knew she liked him when she offered her father's first name, Zebulon, to help him find her in the phone book.
They eventually married and moved to Dallas, where McKie worked for Texas Instruments and they raised three daughters. After 58 happy years together, Virginia passed away in 2009.
McKie now divides his time between Dallas and Norfolk, fitting in trips to Switzerland—a country he and his wife loved—and visits with his daughters and six grandchildren.
He also keeps up with Stanford sports. Smiling broadly, he shares an unbridled enthusiasm for the Cardinal. The 2013 Rose Bowl telecast had him on the edge of his seat, he says. "It was a little hairy" at times. Looking at the football team's latest defensive lineup he exclaims, "I'm getting chills!" He carves out time to cheer Stanford basketball as well.
Having made smaller gifts in the past, McKie decided in 2010 to provide more substantial support to Stanford Athletics' Buck/Cardinal Club, stressing his desire to provide funding for the baseball and football programs. He's proud not only to honor his classmates, but also to sustain the student-athletes who share the Stanford spirit today.