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Lewis “Megalew” Copeland Sr. (4th row center) was the St. Jude Rainmakers assistant coach.
“MegaLew” Copeland and Aunt Khaki’s daughter Pam are big supporters of Lew Copeland, the “Big” star of the Rainmakers. Pam remembers the younger Lew as her “protector.”
Sweet-swinging Lew Copeland Jr. (2nd row/7th from the left) ended his baseball career at Virginia Tech—not on the diamond, but in a classroom.
The success of the St. Jude Rainmakers hinged on togetherness. Vital to that success were Assistant Coach MegaLew Copeland, team mother LewAnn opeland and their “big” catcher, sweet- swinging Lew Copeland.

“Hey Jude,” What about the Rainmakers?

By Gary Ruegsegger
Downtowner Senior Editor

Believe it or not, this story got its start at a Virginia Tech graduation party for Rachel Copeland—the little girl across the street that we’ve known since she was five and was climbing rock walls on her birthday. She has wonderful parents and grandparents and a spectacular set of aunts.

By the way, Rachel’s grandmother Ann is one of Uncle Pete Decker’s “real cousins.” She grew up near Old Dominion in a largely Lebanese neighborhood. Grandmother Ann is 100% Lebanese by birth; Grandfather Lewis “MegaLew” Copeland is 100% Lebanese by choice. His introduction to Lebanese culture began with the Easter Day walk through the neighborhood, but that’s another story.

Ann and Megalew, season ticket holders and accomplished tailgaters, are two diehard Old Dominion football fans. They attend every home game and even invite their son Lew to many of the contests. Needless to say, they’re also big Virginia Tech fans. The two have at least three descendants with Virginia Tech degrees.

Along with dear Uncle Pete, Megalew and Ann provided the Lebanese foundation of the Ocean View St. Jude’s Rainmakers. For those of you not Catholic, St. Jude is the patron saint of lost causes. Years before Paul McCartney wrote “Hey Jude,” my mother, with a little help from Rev. John J. Russell, Bishop of Richmond, bestowed the Confirmation name Jude on me. She and the bishop must have known something.

The St. Jude Rainmakers started out as a mom, pop and Uncle Pete team. The mom was Ann “LewAnn” Copeland, the pop was “MegaLew” Copeland and the Uncle Pete was Norfolk’s favorite uncle, Peter G. Decker Jr. Pete confirmed the name St. Jude’s Rainmakers and sponsored the team. By the way, Pete’s sister Aunt Khaki John even showed up for the graduation party.

The team started out as the Cubs with Megalew and LewAnn’s sweet-swinging baby boy and baseball hopeful “Sweet Lew” Copeland filling in wherever he was needed. Since they were always getting rained out, Lew’s grandmother changed the name from the Cubs to the Rainmakers. She said, “We know it’s going to rain tomorrow because the Rainmakers are playing.” Thank goodness, the rest is history.

And that includes Sweet Lew’s baseball career. A strikeout here, an error there and an acceptance letter to Virginia Tech can end a career faster than a Nolan Ryan fastball. But Lew was quite a baseball player. His mom was his biggest fan—quickly followed in order by his father, his sisters and cousins.

“He was always the catcher and he was fearless. He was too big and nobody could take him out,” remembered his mother LewAnn.

“I was the team mother and I loved every minute of it,” she continued. For the record, Lew wore Triple E shoes. His head was so large that for football he had to have a specially-ordered helmet. At least that’s according to legend in Ocean View and Blacksburg.

“He’s a good athlete—he puts his heart into it. We had great parent support,” added MegaLew, the assistant coach.

Now most of these events transpired in the 70s, but some of the records have been preserved in the family archives or maybe that’s memory. As Oliver Goldsmith once said, “O Memory, thou fond deceiver.” One fact is for certain, the Rainmakers never lost a single game that was rained out.

Lew’s late pet fish, Big Daddy, is not talking. His sister, another Tech grad, flushed "Big Daddy” down the toilet. But the memory of Lew’s baseball career is for sure. In fact, according to many who should know, Lew’s Little League performance on the diamond in the 70s is getting better each year. That's according to Lew of course.

Despite the memories of the Rainmakers and thanks to the efforts of her mother Vicki, Rachel’s graduation party was a huge success. Grandparents Megalew and Ann, the king and queen, held court all afternoon and into the evening. Needless to say, the court jester was also a Virginia Tech fan and graduate wearing size Triple E shoes.

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