Representing the town; Andy Meade was a true team player

“I played offense and defense, but I think I did even more on defense because I was able to intercept a pass or recover a fumble,” he said. “As a single wing quarterback, you work your butt off. You’re either blocking or touching the ball, but it wasn’t the sort of position where you scored. I had some plays where I ran, but I was primarily running pitchouts and passing. I was determined to do everything I could because I didn’t want to let those guys down.”

His efforts helped him secure a co-captain nomination as a senior. Southington returned just four seniors from their state championship team, but Meade helped lead them to a 5-2 record. Over three years, Meade’s teams went 19-2.

“The quarterback was called the blocking back, and Andy did a great job as a blocker with that 1954 team. Then, he moved to tailback the next year, and that is a really key spot in the single wing,” Orsene said. “He played good defense and good offense. He really just did a solid job all around, but he was a great all-around athlete.”

After Thanksgiving, Meade shifted his attention indoors where he led the offense at guard. Once again, Meade wasn’t the top scorer but he helped distribute the ball to prolific scorers like Dick Lorenzo and Corky Casella, and Southington rallied for three consecutive titles in the Central Valley Conference and a trio of postseason appearances, including a rally to the quarterfinals in 1955.

“He was such a good athlete,” said Casella. “I’ve known him since my sophomore year, and he’s always been a good athlete at everything. He was very competitive at everything.”

Of course, baseball was his best sport. He dominated in Little League, and that carried over to the high school. Meade alternated from pitcher to left fielder, but it was his bat that really set him apart. In both his junior and senior seasons, Meade batted over .400, and he helped lead Southington to the Class B state championship game in 1955.

Over the summers, he batted over .400 in four seasons with the local American Legion team. In 1956, he was named as the outstanding hitter for Southington Post 72. In 1992, Meade was inducted into the Southington High School baseball hall of fame.

“He was good at basketball and football, but baseball was probably his best sport,” said Orsene. “He was a good hitter, a good fielder, and I really felt that was his best sport.”

Soon, scouts began to appear on the sidelines. Meade received invitations to try out for both the Cincinatti Reds and the Philadelphia Phillies, but his mother waved off both offers. Instead, the small town star went to Villanova University and he walked onto the baseball team to earn a trio of varsity letters.

“There were a lot of scholarship players. I played, but those scholarship guys had preference over guys like me,” he said. “I did have three letters because I played varsity, and it was great. We played Navy. We went to Annapolis. We traveled all over,a nd it was a great experience.”

After college, Meade returned home to marry his high school sweetheart. He began a successful business in town and served on the town council and a number of local boards. He said that his experience in sports helped pave the way for everything that followed.

“I told my own kids as they were growing up and now my grandkids that you win some and you lose some,” he said. “There isn’t any place better than sports to teach you to be aggressive. It’s a challenge. You’re out there to win, but in the same token you take your bumps and bruises.”

With his excellence in three sports and his leadership on and off the field, it was no surprise that Meade was selected to represent the town in the Southington Sports Hall of Fame. On Thursday, Nov. 8, he will be inducted in a ceremony at the Aqua Turf in Plantsville.

“I consider it a real, real privilege. We’ve had so many good ball players, and I almost feel that there are a lot of guys that deserve it before me,” he said. “We had a reputation to uphold, and I feel good that I was a part of it. That’s one of the reasons why, later on, I went on to serve the town council. It was great to work for the town or play for the town. I really owe so much to this town, and I always felt good to represent them.”

For tickets, contact Jim Verderame at (860) 628-7335.

To comment on this story or to contact sports writer John Goralski, email him at jgoralski@ southingtonobserver.com.

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