Military News

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Former professional baseball player says Air Guard is his winning team

by Air Force Master Sgt. Desiree Twombly
Arizona National Guard

8/24/2010 - TUSCON, Ariz. (AFNS) -- When Staff Sgt. Trevor Harvey lights the candles on the altar before Mass on drill weekends, he favors the hand that once pitched to Ken Griffey Jr.

"During one game I pitched, he hit a ball over 500 feet," said Sergeant Harvey, who now serves as the chaplain's assistant with the Arizona Air National Guard's 162nd Fighter Wing here.

Originally from Imlay City, Mich., Sergeant Harvey started playing baseball at age 7, and he excelled in the sport. Throughout high school, he played varsity baseball. Just before graduation, word spread quickly to local scouts about the 6-foot-5-inch left hander.

During games, Sergeant Harvey noticed scouts in the stands with radar guns.

"Every time I threw a fast ball, the radar guns would come up," he said. "As the games went on, and through the end of the season, it wasn't unusual to see more than 30 guys with radar guns in the stands. I knew then something neat was going to happen."

Shortly thereafter, he received more than 200 letters from colleges from all over the country asking him to play. Sergeant Harvey was drafted by the Seattle Mariners right out of high school, but he chose to go to Michigan State University to play with the Spartans.

"One of the stipulations for signing a professional contract was a clause stating that injury would void the contract," he said. "That meant my education would not be paid for. My parents did not think it was a good idea, given that I already had a scholarship waiting in Michigan."

Sergeant Harvey played for Michigan State from 1990 to 1995.

"I got my education paid for, and I got an opportunity to travel and play baseball against different schools like Arizona, Texas and Florida," he said. "It was awesome."

His senior year in college proved to be a successful one. He received invitations to try out for the Montreal Expos, Detroit Tigers and the Baltimore Orioles.

A small independent Canadian team called the Brandon Grey Owls ultimately made him an offer he couldn't refuse.

"I was offered a stipend of $700 a month and a place to live," he said. At age 22, that was a big deal."

He played a few games for the Owls, but it wasn't long before a scout from the Colorado Rockies took notice of the left-handed pitcher. They made him an offer, and he was on his way to play for the Rockies.

Shortly after signing his professional contract, Sergeant Harvey popped his shoulder out of its socket. Recovery was expected to take 18 months.

"The Rockies weren't willing to wait," he said.

His professional baseball endeavor was put on hold, and as a result of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, his motivations changed.

"I had an epiphany after 9/11," Sergeant Harvey said. "I felt moved by the events and the reactions of the people in my generation. I had to get involved."

In 2003, he enlisted in the Michigan Air National Guard. Three years later, he relocated with his family to Tucson, Ariz., and joined the 162nd Fighter Wing. He considered a chaplaincy with the Army Guard until he was scouted by the chaplain's office here.

"When you play baseball, everyone on the team wears the same uniform, and you help each other out," Sergeant Harvey said. "That is everything that the Air Force is about. It was such an easy transition. I have loved every minute of my time in the Air Force.

"If I had to do it all again," he added, "I would have given up the Michigan State experience and enlisted at age 18. That is how much I love what I do now."

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