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From rags to diamonds

John Meeden, who was homeless when he was invited to join the U.S. Pallet senior-softball team, outside the one-bedroom apartment he now rents for $190 a month in his hometown of Alton, Ill., 25 miles north of St. Louis. Teammates pay for his airfare, lodging and tournament fees on the road. (Denise Keim / For the Times)
Meeden said he was so hungry and weak when he first developed his batting style that he would wind his body as tightly as he could to get maximum power. (Denise Keim / For the Times)
Despite his frailness and a diet of leftovers scrounged from dumpsters, Meeden showed wild speed on the bases and played a great shortstop. (Denise Keim / For the Times)
Meeden batting against a softball team from Calhoun, Ill. (Denise Keim / For The Times)
Bats used by the players. (Denise Keim / For The Times)
Gary Rull, No. 33, watches Meeden bat. (Denise Keim / For the Times)