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Former pro-ball player says Air Guard is his winning team

Stafff Sgt. Trevor Harvey, a chaplain's assistant at the Arizona Air National Guard's 162nd Fighter Wing, prepares for Catholic Mass on a drill weekend. (Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Desiree Twombly)

Stafff Sgt. Trevor Harvey, a chaplain's assistant at the Arizona Air National Guard's 162nd Fighter Wing, prepares for Catholic Mass on a drill weekend. (Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Desiree Twombly)

Staff Sgt. Trevor Harvey, once a left-handed pitcher on the pro circuit, winds up to deliver a fast ball. (Air Force photo)

Staff Sgt. Trevor Harvey, once a left-handed pitcher on the pro circuit, winds up to deliver a fast ball. (Air Force photo)

TUCSON, Ariz. -- Baseball fans in Tucson may root for the Tucson Toros at Hi Corbett field. They may even make the trek to see their favorite major league team. But only in their wildest dreams would they rub shoulders on the field with some of the biggest names in baseball.

For one member here at the 162nd Fighter Wing, that dream was his reality. Chaplain's Assistant Staff Sgt. Trevor Harvey played professional baseball as a left-handed pitcher prior to joining the Air National Guard.

"A couple of big time players I've pitched against are Ken Griffey, Jr. and Derek Jeter. I played Griffey in a game in 1988. During one game I pitched, he hit a ball over 500 feet. I played Derek Jeter in a summer tournament in 1992. He is currently the starting short stop for the New York Yankees," he said.

Originally from Imlay City, Mich., Sergeant Harvey started playing baseball at the tender age of 7 and immediately excelled in the sport.

Throughout high school, Sergeant Harvey played varsity baseball. Just before graduation, word spread quickly to local scouts about this 6-foot-5-inch southpaw. During games he noticed the scouts in the stands with radar guns.

"Every time I threw a fast ball, the radar guns would come up. They were measuring the velocity of my pitch. 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," he said.

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

"One of the stipulations for signing a professional contract was a clause stating that injury would void the contract. 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. So, I turned down the Mariners and played with the Michigan State Spartans 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. It was awesome," he said.

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. At age 22, that was a big deal," he said.

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

"Not long after signing, at a game with the Brandon Grey Owls, I threw a pitch and popped my shoulder out of its socket. Recovery time took 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. I felt moved by the events and the reactions of the people in my generation. I had to get involved. In 2003 I saw a recruiter and enlisted into the Air National Guard in Michigan," Sergeant Harvey said. He was 31 years old.

By 2006, he relocated to Tucson with his family and joined the 162nd Fighter Wing. He considered a chaplaincy with the Army Guard until he was scouted by the chaplains office here where he is currently the chaplain's assistant.

"When you play baseball, everyone on the team wears the same uniform and you help each other out. 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 I would have given up the Michigan State experience and enlisted at age 18. That is how much I love what I do now," said Sergeant Harvey.