End of an era

Published 5:17 pm Tuesday, April 4, 2023

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AHOSKIE – Over the course of 25 years, Wayne Meeks has seen generations of baseball players wear the uniform of Ahoskie American Legion Post 102.

But as they say, all good things must come to an end.

Meeks has officially retired as the Post 102 Athletic Director, but not before helping to not only revive the program, but to watch it grow into offering competition at the Junior and Senior league levels.

“I’ve really enjoyed my time as the Post Athletic Director,” said Meeks, now age 74. “I’ve seen players from back in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s have kids of their own who have played for Post 102.”

Meeks was one of the forces behind the success of Ahoskie American Legion Post 102’s baseball. That athletic program, which gained national attention over 60 years ago as one that helped hone the skills of the now late Jim “Catfish” Hunter (who played with the Oakland A’s and New York Yankees during his Major League Hall of Fame career), went through 31 years of dormancy before Meeks and the now late Johnnie Ray Farmer breathed new life into the organization in 1997.

“I’ve been a baseball man all my life,” Meeks noted. “Once I became the Post 102 Athletic Director I learned the other side of the game. There’s a lot of work that goes on behind the scenes….attending meetings, fundraising, finding sponsors, and arranging schedules.

“You’ve got to work at it nearly 12 months out of the year,” he added. “You’ve got to be passionate about it.”

Meeks was inducted into the Meeks into the North Carolina American Legion Baseball Hall of Fame in 2001.

“That was a great individual honor, but I’m kept working after that to make sure that our baseball program continued to grow,” Meeks said.

One of his greatest experiences was having the opportunity to work alongside his wife, Linda, who was a member of the Post 102 Ladies Auxiliary.

“She ran the concession stand at our home games until her health got bad,” Meeks said of his wife, who passed away in 2019. I stayed with it all these years but now my health won’t let me; it’s time to let someone younger take the reigns and keep it going strong.”

At their regular monthly meeting last week, Post 102 presented Meeks with a plaque to honor his work as its Athletic Director.

“Wayne has put in a lot of work over the years,” said Post 102 Commander James Hutchinson. “I first met him when I came in Ahoskie in 1974. I started coaching Pony League baseball here in town and Wayne later coached that same team. We built a friendship then that continues today.”

Upon handing the plaque to Meeks, Hutchinson said, “This is in recognition for your many years of commitment, hard work and dedication to the Ahoskie Legion Post 102. Without your perseverance, there’s no way American Legion Baseball could have survived in Ahoskie. These young men would have never had the opportunity to play American Legion Baseball. You are truly a Legion Baseball Hall of Famer.”

Ed Nelson has been named as the new Athletic Director for Post 102.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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