Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Local News

August 21, 2012

Throwing first pitch: Big fan gets big send off

BLUEFIELD — A big fan of the Bluefield Blue Jays, Pfc. Andrew Meadows, had one thing he wanted to do before his deployment to Afghanistan — throw out the first pitch at a Jay’s baseball game.

Meadows serves with the Bluefield-based 304th Military Police Company, U.S. Army Reserves, which will be leaving Thursday for a year-long deployment in Afghanistan. On Monday, Meadows got to throw out the first pitch at the Bluefield Jays game against Pulaski Mariners. A North Tazewell, Va.-native, Meadows has been a fan of the Bluefield Blue Jays for years.

“I come to Jays games as much as I can,” Meadows said. “I’ve been watching baseball all my life and coming out to these games since I was little. I’ve been an avid fan of the Jays back when they were still the Bluefield Orioles.”

When team officials heard Meadows wanted to throw out the first pitch, they were more than willing to get on him on the mound. George McGonagle, general manager of the Bluefield Baseball Club, said the team was happy to have Meadows start the game.

“It was a great idea,” McGonagle said. “We are very happy to have him here. We wish Pfc. Meadows and all the members of the 304th Military Police the very best during their deployment. (Meadows) does get pretty vocal at our games, and we wish all fans were like him. We just thought it would be nice to give a big send off to such a big fan.”

Meadows said he was thrilled to hear he would be on the pitcher’s mound Monday night.

“I was excited,” Meadows said. “I really looked forward to it. My wife said I needed to get in some practice, but I told her I think I know how to throw a ball.”

Meadows said he enjoys the excitement of baseball.

“I’m rooting for the home team tonight, definitely,” Meadows said. “I love watching baseball games, especially the closers when it’s a tight game. I love when the bases are loaded, there is that 2-3 count and they win with a grand slam. No hitters are great to watch too.”

When he is back stateside, Meadows said he has already made some baseball-related plans.

“We are getting ready to head oversees and will hopefully come back safe and sound,” he said. “We don’t get to play a lot of baseball when we are deployed. I should be back next summer. I plan to go to all of the Appalachian League parks next year. I’m especially looking forward to coming to the Jays games next year.”

Meanwhile, plans are underway to give the entire 304th MP a big send off on Thursday. Marie Blackwell, executive director of the Mercer County Convention and Visitors Bureau, said there are plans to say goodbye to the unit when they leave from Bluefield High School.

“They will be going into the high school for a deployment ceremony around 8:30 a.m. and we are asking people to line up at the school around 8:30 a.m. Thursday morning,” Blackwell said. “We are asking people to wear patriotic clothes and we are asking for the community to come out and support these men and women as they leave. If they want to bring a sign that is fine. We just want everyone to be out there to support our troops.”

In addition to offering them a big send-off, Blackwell said there are plans to provide the troops with care packages.

“We are packaging bags for the troops with items like socks, lip balm, water and little packets of flavoring for water,” she said. “There are more things coming in as well. We are also looking to give our yellow ribbons for the families. We are working on posters and banners. We are having another meeting to confirm everything and square up everything we want.”

Blackwell encouraged all members of the community to attend the event.

“These soldiers need to know the community and this country support their efforts to preserve our freedom and everything involved in that,” Blackwell said. “Their duty is something we should not take for granted. We also want their families to know that we support them as well.”

The 304th MP Company has been ordered to active duty four times since they were first headquartered in Bluefield in 1963. Previously, the company was activated in 1991, 1996 and 2002.

— Contact Kate Coil at

kcoil@bdtonline.com

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