GRAYSON, Ga. — Austin Meadows remembers being nervous, but thankful for the opportunity to play varsity baseball when he was a freshman at Grayson High School back in 2010.
What a difference nine years makes!
The Tampa Bay Rays All-Star outfielder returned to Grayson Saturday to have his jersey retired.
But he wasn't alone. The Gwinnett County high school retired the No. 16 for both Austin Meadows and his younger brother Parker Meadows. Parker Meadows graduated from Grayson in 2018 and was drafted by the Detroit Tigers as the first pick in the second round of the MLB draft.
Austin Meadows helped lead Grayson to the state semifinals as a junior before hitting .535 as a senior. The Pittsburgh Pirates selected him in the first round of the 2013 MLB draft. In 2019, he hit .291 with 33 home runs and 89 RBIs for the Tampa Bay Rays. He led the team in all of those categories and was named to his first MLB All-Star game.
Saturday's jersey retirement was an honor for both brothers.
"Being able to just always call Grayson home, to always represent Grayson wherever I go, wherever I play, any field I play on, it's a true honor," Austin Meadows told wsbtv.com's Nelson Hicks. "I had an ultimate experience here, four years of great people, great coaches, great teachers, great friends, teammates, I could go on and on. So, I'm blessed to call this my home."
Parker Meadows was featured as a WSB-TV Athlete of the Week in 2018. He was committed to the Clemson Tigers to play college baseball, but when he heard the Detroit Tigers call his name during the draft, he was excited to get his professional journey started.
"It's been a blessing," Parker Meadows said. "Shout out to the Detroit Tigers for drafting me and letting me continue my baseball career. (The jersey retirement ceremony ) has been an honor. The show out today was unbelievable. The community support is unbelievable."
For their parents, Staci and Kenny Meadows, Saturday's event along with having two boys playing professional baseball are a couple of those pinch-me moments.
"Just to look out there and to see No. 16 in dead center field, it's just like, to see their accomplishments come to this and know that Grayson (is) always gonna have a special place in our hearts...and like Austin said on the podium today, if you believe in yourself, all the kids out there, keep working and believing in your dream, one day this will come true," Kenny Meadows said.
The Meadows brother pulled the curtain covering the No. 16 jersey in center field at Saturday's ceremony. The school presented them both with a framed Meadows No. 16 jersey and many fans in attendance purchased their own jerseys to support the school's baseball program and the brothers. After the ceremony, the brother stuck around to sign autographs and take photos with everyone in attendance.
But having their jersey retired isn't the final chapter in the baseball journey for these brothers.
"I feel like this is just the beginning for Austin and Parker," Kenny Meadows said.
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