The American Legion Baseball organization has decided to eliminate the regional and national tournaments for this summer, yet leaving the option for each state to make the call whether to play or cancel the season altogether with the state tournaments being the season finale.
On April 7, the Americanism Commission along with American Legion National Commander James William “Bill” Oxford made the cancellation announcement of all 2020 American Legion Baseball national tournaments due to the COVID-19 pandemic which included all eight regional tournaments and the World Series which is annually held in Shelby, N.C.
“The decision to cancel was extremely difficult but deemed necessary, first and foremost in the interest of health and safety, and in the face of uncertainty,” Americanism Commission’s Richard Anderson noted to the MetroNews.
“These times are unparalleled. And while it is distressing to think of all those youth across the nation who are disappointed to learn of the cancellation of American Legion programs this year, it would be a much, much greater tragedy if even just one of those youth were to fall ill during a program.”
As of now, West Virginia remains optimistic for keeping the season alive this summer, meanwhile, there are states folding up the competition with cancellations happening in North Carolina, Florida, Iowa, North Dakota, Oklahoma and Tennessee with the list beginning to grow.
Moorefield American Legion Post 64 Baseball manager Kevin Reed hopes there will be a season, but plans to have other options available for the team members this summer if there is a cancellation.
“We may still have a Legion season, but nothing beyond state level. We are also looking into some options if West Virginia follows some of the other states. We are looking at forming a league of 4-6 teams if Legion is cancelled, maybe get 25 games in similar to Legion,” Moorefield American Legion Post 64 manager Kevin Reed stated.
“I really hate it for seniors. Hopefully the underclassmen will get another chance next year.”
North Carolina already has a new league forming which will be similar to the Legion baseball to give the players an opportunity to play the sport they love and still be seen by scouts during this summer.
It is a waiting game to see what the decision will be here in the Mountain State, but thankfully there will be options available for the players to compete.
“Let’s face it, there are a lot of rising seniors that need a high school season and a legion season to up their stock to play college baseball,” West Virginia Assistant Commissioner of American Legion Baseball Chris George commented.
“Especially the seniors, they could potentially lose their last high school year. They could potentially lose their summer. And the 19 year-olds that are playing after their freshman year in college, their seasons were cut short. They are looking to get some at bats in or innings on the mound. If we don’t, it is a totally lost year.”
The financial burden will be a major impact for the teams as most small businesses are closed and they help support the team’s seasons.
“There’s lots of small businesses that help out all the American Legion baseball teams not only in West Virginia, but in all states. Many of those businesses are shut down right now. We don’t know when they will re-open and if they do, where will they stand financially? How much are they going to be able to help the teams?,” George added.