Sports

Devoted Cardinals fan loses inspired battle with cancer

Belleville cancer survivor toes the rubber at Busch Stadium

Bill Meirink was diagnosed with stage 4 stomach cancer in 2013. Representing Siteman Cancer Center, the Belleville resident threw out a ceremonial pitch before a game between the St. Louis Cardinals and Pittsburgh Pirates at Busch Stadium.
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Bill Meirink was diagnosed with stage 4 stomach cancer in 2013. Representing Siteman Cancer Center, the Belleville resident threw out a ceremonial pitch before a game between the St. Louis Cardinals and Pittsburgh Pirates at Busch Stadium.

Bill Meirink, whose inspiring battle with cancer was highlighted in a Belleville News-Democrat feature story last July about him throwing out the first pitch at a St. Louis Cardinals game, died on Saturday.

The Swansea resident and avid Cardinals and St. Louis Blues fan was 54. Meirink had been diagnosed with stage 4 stomach cancer in 2013.

He was chosen to throw out the ceremonial first pitch at the July 5 Cardinals game as part of Siteman Center Cancer Awareness Night at Busch Stadium.

Being selected to throw out the first pitch was an honor for Meirink, who accepted the assignment seriously.

“I’m going to think about all the people I’ve met through this journey,” he said in the feature story. “All the ones who struggle and go and get that treatment. Cancer’s a tough thing, it’s extremely tough mentally besides being physically tough, too.

“I’m going to think of all the people I’ve met through this thing, including the doctors and nurses. The support system that I’ve had through this whole thing is just off the charts, family and friends and everyone else. I’ve been blessed.”

54-year old Bill Meirink, of Belleville, has been dealing with stomach cancer for three years. The St. Louis Cardinals invited him to throw out the ceremonial first pitch on St. Louis Cardinals Cancer Awareness Night before the July 5 with the Pir

Meirink’s family, including wife, Anne Meirink, was present at the game along with more than 120 other family members and friends. Nearly all had purchased tickets because they knew Bill Meirink was being honored and throwing out the first pitch.

Meirink’s children include Erin, Emily, Andy, Adam, Evan and his youngest daughter, 14-year-old Abbey.

Visitation is 3 to 8 p.m. Thursday and 9 to 10 a.m. Friday at Our Lady Queen of Peace Catholic Church in Belleville. A funeral mass is scheduled for 10 a.m. Friday, also at Queen of Peace.

Norm Sanders: 618-239-2454, @NormSanders

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