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TOYS AND GAMES: One More Meach Story

Yesterday I re-ran a blog I wrote about my late friend Tim Meacham. Meach was a real beauty, so he left behind a legacy of great stories. After reading yesterday’s blog, my friend Mark Kuhn shared the following story about Meach:

Charlie Martin and I were at the end of our big tennis phase where we would go to Davis Island Tennis Courts and play a couple times a week. Must have been 1970 or ’71. We were playing on the court farthest from Seddon Island (now Harbor Island) and there were at least five courts next to each other between us and the Seddon Island Channel.

Meacham came with us that day and wasn’t enjoying himself, just standing to the side awkwardly holding his racket watching Charlie and I play. We had the five courts to ourselves except for two skinny, younger, spoiled brats (they were running around yelling, etc.) who were playing on the third court. One of them hit a ball sideways and it came toward us, dribbling right to Meacham, who wasn’t really paying attention. One of the brats yelled: “Hey Fatso! A little help!”…

Obviously, Charlie and I were in a moment of shock because these idiots, not knowing who Meacham was, had just insulted a guy who 1.) was really a gentle giant and 2.) could hit a baseball so hard he once hit a home run when the other team tried to intentionally walk him! However, I did recover enough to prepare myself, to take in his response thinking.. “This is gonna be great!”

Tim slowly reached down, picked the ball up tossing it straight up into the air with his left hand and–still holding his racquet–smashed the tennis ball with historic (he was REALLY mad) force. The ball took off over all five courts, over the 40-foot tall Australian pines that lined the channel, and landed about a 100 yards midstream, floating in that dark water and heading out to the bay.

Well, Charlie and I could not stop laughing and Tim was a little embarrassed (he thankfully did not apologize to the little jerks) at losing his temper. I can still see it like it was yesterday. Just classic and so damn funny. Can still hear the “WHOMP” of the tennis ball and can still see us laughing so hard we literally had to sit down.

They say Babe Ruth hit the longest home run of all time in Tampa. I believe there at the old Fairgrounds is a plaque stating he hit it (my grandfather Doc Kuhn saw it) over 600 feet. Well, I saw the longest hit tennis ball of all time not far from there at Davis Island, Tampa. Maybe there should be a plaque?

I’m all for the plaque, Mark. Thanks for the story. — BC

bchastain19@gmail.com

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©2020 by Bill Chastain. Photo credits: Jill Doty Photography