A Visit with Illini Sophomore Shortstop T.F. Meagher
April 17, 2001
College is different. Things you did in high school are not the same when you come to college. Instructors and coaches are different and want you to try new ideas. Take T.F. Meagher for example.
Throughout high school Meagher played shortstop. "When I got to Illinois, the coaches decided that I should move to second base because of my height," said Meagher. So last season, he practiced at second and learned from former Illini infielders Craig Marquie, D.J. Svihlik and Chris Basak.
"Those guys helped me out. DJ worked with me during fall practices. Chris encouraged me to keep working and swinging. They showed me how to prepare physically and mentally for games. They all love the game and teaching it. I was able to learn everyday from guys that had great careers at Illinois."
During last summer, Meagher also learned more about second base by playing in Maryland in a collegiate summer league. "Maryland was fun. We were pretty close to Washington D.C., so we did some sightseeing and tourist stuff there.?
"I played second most of the season but also played some short," Meagher continued. "The minor league guys that were on my team gave me good advice and hints on what I was doing."
When he returned to Illinois this season, he moved back over to short when Andy Hilligross went out with an injury. So Meagher was back to where he started and says he'll play wherever he is needed to play in order to help out the team. "I just want to play well and help the team win some games."
But this season is odd for Meagher because Illinois is missing a couple of key players from last year due to injury, and Joe Ziemba, a pitcher out with an elbow injury, and rightfielder Joe Parenti, who is out with a broken foot, are his roommates. "It's odd with (Joe) Ziemba out but we knew he would be, but (Joe) Parenti, we never expected him to be out this year.?
"They (Ziemba and Parenti) do what they can to contribute to the team, and it's different since they are practicing at different times. But Craig (Lechowicz, the fourth roommate) and I are excited for next year when we can all play together again."
Meagher (which the T.F. stands for Thomas Francis) learned his sense of teamwork from his military academy high school, Marmion Academy. "My dad and some of my mother's family attended the school."
Was the military in Meagher's future? "It was interesting, and I don't mean that in a bad way. It was a good experience and that experience has helped me with baseball and in classes."
And what if he didn't have to work on baseball in college? "I'd probably pick up more classes. I probably would also be watching more television like that block from the Simpsons to Friends." One thing that wouldn't change is the level of competition that happens in their apartment.
"We are very competitive. I brought a ping-pong table to the apartment this year. Let's just say it gets pretty heated sometimes. Ziemba doesn't like to lose and sometimes starts throwing things. It helps us take our minds off baseball, and helps with our hand-eye coordination."
The other games they play also helps with their hand-eye coordination, video games. "College football was the game last semester," Meagher added. "Ziemba thought he was a coach, creating his own teams."
But the ultimate video game dream of this apartment? "A college baseball game would be awesome. To be able to be yourself and your team while playing the game would be cool. To have days like the players on the games have would be pretty nice, too."
Who knows, maybe T.F. Meagher and the Illini will be in a video game someday soon.