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Mehlhaff and his lucky coin


The Arizona quarter was passed down from his older brother Michael

by: CONTRIBUTED PHOTO: DEBBIE MEHLHAFF - Dave Mehlhaff hands off the lucky Arizona quarter to son Greg before Saturdays game with New Jersey.

WILLIAMSPORT — Reasons abound for Gresham’s run to the Little League World Series this summer — a steady defense that converts outs with robotic efficiency, big hitters throughout the lineup and some speedy runners that are always a threat to score. But somewhere in that mix a silver coin has played a part, of that shortstop Greg Mehlhaff is certain.

The lucky Arizona state quarter got its start when his older brother Michael found it while on a spring break trip to Arizona. A junior at Gresham High at the time, Michael went on a tear at the plate that week with the Gophers and ended up on the all-tournament team. He held onto the quarter for a couple years before heading off to college and passing it on to Greg, who has carried the coin in his right back pockets on game days ever since.

Well, almost every game.

“We were at the state semifinals last year, and Greg hadn’t struck out all season, but he did in that game,” says dad and assistant coach Dave Mehlhaff. “Sure enough, I look in my pocket and I still have the quarter, so I made sure it got to him between innings.”

The quarter was in greater jeopardy earlier in the Bend trip when mom Debbie Mehlhaff took a trip to the hotel laundry.

“I knew what I had done the moment I pushed in the slot and thought ‘Oh no, what did I do?’” Debbie says. “I don’t get to hold it any more.”

She shared her secret only with a select group of moms, who helped cover the team hotel while she made a late-night trip to the front desk.

“They were able to open up the coin machine, and I took out all of the Arizona quarters,” Debbie says.

Unsure which quarter was the lucky one, she tracked down her son the next morning and held out her palm filled with coins.

“She had five or six quarters in her hand, but I keep a mark on my lucky one so I was able to pick it out,” Greg says.

Mehlhaff is expected to get the start on the mound during Gresham's final World Series game — an exhibition against Uganda at 10 a.m. Tuesday televised on ESPN.