July 19th, 2010

Baseball Unnoticed

E.U.P. Travelers vs. Gaylord: In between our weekly Little League games and our monthly Minor League adventures, the kids and I have been enjoying a brand of baseball that seems to have gone unnoticed in our country lately. That brand is American Legion Baseball. Following our team, the E.U.P. Travelers (stands for Eastern Upper Pennincula), gives us a chance to relax and enjoy quality baseball that features the best players from around the area. This weekend we were able to catch a couple of games, including the Travelers (representing Eagle Post 3) beating the Gaylord, Mi team by ten runs before the rain hit. The team and league, however, doesn’t even have a website to publish their scores or stats. I noticed a game while taking the kids to the park a couple of weeks ago, and had to hunt down the coaches to get a schedule. Again, no website, and very little coverage in the local press.

American Legion ball came into existence in 1925 when local posts wanted to further support their communities through athletic games, and was the first program to provide a national tournament for teenagers. The leagues have gotten financial help from Major League Baseball as well, especially during the early days, to keep the programs running. Today the program registers over 5400 teams in all of the 50 states, including Canada and Puerto Rico. Almost 100,000 teenager between the ages of 15-19 participate each year. Since it’s beginnings, the league has had over 10 million players with nearly 75% of the current college players being program graduates. American Legion Baseball also helps their players financially giving away $51,000-$1,000 for a player scholarship from each department based on leadership, character, scholarship and financial need. Also, since 1949, the American Legion Player of the Year and recieve a trip to the National Baseball Hall of Fame. This makes the recipients the only amatuer players invited to the exhibit. As of today, more than half of the Major League players played Legion Baseball. The list of alumni include Yogi Berra, Ted Williams, Frank Robinson, Mark Texiera, Ryne Sandberg, Roy Campanella, Dusty Baker, Albert Pujols, Greg Maddux, and Chipper Jones. The program had arguably the biggest impact on HOFer Bob Feller of the Cleveland Indians. Growing up in a small farming community, Leagion Baseball gave him the oportunity to be discovered.

travelers4.jpgPhotos property of M.I.B.

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