Softball: Shield honours Clyma's efforts

Otago softball great Merv Clyma holds the shield in his name that will be contested today for the...
Otago softball great Merv Clyma holds the shield in his name that will be contested today for the first time. Photo by Linda Robertson.
The Merv Clyma Shield honours the contribution made to Otago sport by one of the province's elite sportsmen.

Merv Clyma (73) is one of the greats of Otago softball and has made a huge contribution to the sport over nearly 50 years.

Clyma and wife Fran will be at the Ellis Park diamond today to watch the first game for the trophy between Dodgers and Ellis Park. They shift to Motueka next week. Clyma played for Ellis Park in his teenage years but most of his softball as a player and coach was with the Dodgers club.

Dodgers stalwart Lee Ashton described Clyma ''as the most influential person in Otago softball in my time. His contribution goes back to the early 1960s.''

Clyma switched from Ellis Park to Dodgers in the late 1950s, because he wanted to be a pitcher.

It was a good move because he played for the South Island in 1960 and New Zealand in 1967.

He was a stalwart for the Otago team and also played for Auckland, Wellington and Manawatu, when he worked as a sales representative. He kept playing softball into his late 40s and filled in for Otago until the 1980s.

Clyma settled back in Dunedin in 1974 and began to make his mark as a coach, firstly of Dodgers and then with Otago for two decades.

He began to make his mark on the national scene when he coached the South Island to an upset one-run win over the North Island in 1982.

A year later, he was the Black Sox coach for the international series with the United States and Japan. Otago players in that team were Peter Roberts and John Scholten.

It was not only on the diamond that Clyma made his contribution to the Dodgers club. He also ran a weekly meat raffle to raise funds for balls and bats.

Clyma was a versatile sportsman and also played senior football for Roslyn-Wakari and represented Otago in the 1960s.

In his later years, Clyma was a keen bowler with the Green Island club and a member of the Otago Bridge Club.

When he returned to Dunedin, Clyma owned a furniture shop in South Dunedin for 10 years, and later put his energies into a takeaway shop in Kaikorai Valley.

Older players from both the Dodgers and Ellis Park clubs are expected to watch the first Merv Clyma Shield game at Ellis Park today, at 3pm. Dodgers have won all three games between the two teams this season.

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