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  • Bill Chastain

TOYS AND GAMES: Replay for The Meach

Recently we passed the third anniversary of Tim Meacham’s sudden death at the age of 56. Twice last weekend I took part in conversations with friends who were also friends with Meach. Those conversations were filled with laughter and an eye or two might have moistened. Everybody who knew him had a story about him. In honor of The Meach, I decided to offer a replay of the most read post I’ve written, which I wrote shortly after his death on Sept. 23, 2012.

Thinking of you this morning, Meach, here goes:

Odd what goes through your head when sorting out why random selection has claimed someone you have known since the age of 6. Sifting through the memories, I came up with several choice snapshots of Meach.

Foremost, Meach will always be the Big Kid. The one who ruled Tampa Bay Little League with his fastball, striking fear into skinny little boys with a penchant for stepping in the bucket. He threw so hard that he cracked Patrick Hogue’s helmet with a fastball — in Farm League. Yes, that was long before fathers teed them up or lobbed them in for “Coach Pitch” and there were no aluminum bats.

Meacham Vintage Meach going Bob Marley

By the time Meach became a playing 12-year-old, hitting a ball into fair play against him meant you had a good day. And his team, the Colts, always went to Burger King after the games because he seemed to club a homer or two every game. Back in those days Burger King gave away free Whoppers to the whole team if they had the player who hit the first home run of the game.

During college, Meach and Joe Mathis drove to Atlanta from Tallahassee to take in the Braves for a weekend series. Meach’s Duster served as their mode of transportation. Talk about a custom design, that Duster had two round holes behind the back seat where speakers for his eight-track had been stationed. When the Braves’ Friday night game got rained out, we drove around Atlanta drinking Wiedemann Beer — $3.80 a case (once you drank four you got the taste out of your mouth and you were fine to drink more), and every beer finished got deposited in one of the speaker holes, sending the can straight to the trunk. Maximum utility.

After college, Meach and Brad Douglas were roommates at The Cove in an apartment above the one my brother, Buddy, and I shared. That led to midnight battles with frozen pies to combat the munchies (cue up Steely Dan), many “Flintstones” — or large steaks on the grill, and loads of laughs.

A wedding at the Yacht Club turned into a brawl: Tampa guys vs. Cincinnati guys. By the time the action moved outside Meach had morphed into the Incredible Hulk. In the years that followed, we could always find a smile recalling one woman’s voice from when she squealed about Meach: “Pull him off, he’s an animal!”

Yes, he won the fight.

When a friend visited for Thanksgiving, we set out from Clearwater on a deep-sea fishing trip. And, to quote George Costanza, “it was an angry sea, my friend.” Unfortunately for my friend, he could not handle angry seas, nor calm ones, which he hadn’t bothered to tell us prior to arranging the trip. Shortly after we left the dock, my friend hurled for the first of many times that day. Never one to miss the ball when teed up, Meach deadpanned: “Chumming a little early, aren’t we?”

I can’t tell you how many games I watched on TV with Meach, but I do remember watching the 1980 USA-USSR hockey game at The Cove with Buddy, Brad and Meach. Shortly after Al Michaels minted his famed, “Do you believe in miracles”, we went outside to hear half the apartment complex singing “The Star Spangled Banner.” The National Anthem resonated like Christmas carols while we listened in awe.

We played fast-pitch softball together and over the years digressed to playing slow-pitch long enough to where we were getting our brains beat out by college kids who slid into bases and kept their batting averages. In addition, we traveled to all reaches of the globe — or the West Coast of Florida, with golf clubs in tow. No course was safe from the Traveling Pros from Dover.

Any given trip with Meach usually became an adventure, leading to a lifetime of silly jokes with the accompanying dialogue.

But Meach possessed more than a rapier wit. He had many interests and a keen mind. He saw things from a different perspective, which I think led him to battle the Black Dog on many occasions. Though I haven’t seen him much over the last couple of years, I know Meach would have been there for me had I needed him. Meach was that kind of friend.

I will miss the Big Kid.

RIP Meach.

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