National Legion baseball pulls the plug; Hardhats, Stars still expected to play
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AMERICAN LEGION BASEBALL

National Legion baseball pulls the plug; Hardhats, Stars still expected to play

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The South Dakota American Legion baseball season for 2020 as it was expected to be by late Saturday night, has turned to be a no go by Sunday afternoon.

South Dakota Legion programs received some potential good news late Saturday night when the South Dakota State American Legion Executive Committee approved a 2020 baseball season.

However, later Sunday, the national headquarters for American Legion baseball has elected to suspend the remaining 25 states from play, thus cancelling the South Dakota season. If programs continue to play this summer, it will not be under the official American Legion name or guidance.

Both Rapid City Post 22 and 320 programs indicated earlier this week that if there would be no official American Legion season, they would still play, and that hasn't changed. 

The 22 and 320 programs officially got their preseason practices underway Monday after waiting for the go-ahead from City of Rapid City officials due to the COVID-19 pandemic shutdown.

Late Sunday afternoon Post 22 manager Kelvin Torve expressed his disappointment with the recent national ruling, but maintained their desire to still play baseball.

"It's been a roller-coaster day," Torve said. "Initially we hear the South Dakota Athletic Commission approved for us to play, so there is the excitement and the anticipation. Then a few hours later, the national organization comes in and cancels everything, so there is the disappointment, the frustration and the anger associated with that."

Torve said that what he also feels bad for is the South Dakota Athletic Commission probably had a difficult, agonizing meeting to make the right decision. They make it and the national group says, "no, you're not having a season and everything is over.

"I appreciated the commission. They invested a lot of emotional energy and wisdom and experience in this decision, all for naught," he said. "At the end of the day, the national had made the decision already and the athletic commission's decision meant nothing."

The season is still on, Torve said. They'll still play their schedule and the South Dakota coaches have a tentative meeting Wednesday to move forward.

"We've already had a couple of meetings, and it is virtually unanimous that everybody wants to have a season," he said. "We may have a state tournament, and it obviously would be unofficial, so it remains to be seen. The encouraging thing is all of the coaches in South Dakota want to play and we're going to try to figure something out."

Post 320 manager Brian Humphries said that the national cancellation doesn't really make a whole lot of difference as they were going to play baseball, whether it would be Legion or not.

"We had already planned that if it would happen, and most thought it could happen seeing the country as a whole falling in suit canceling their seasons," he said. "The only thing that could change is I did hear that the Gopher Classic might be canceled, although it hasn't been confirmed. It will be about being able to add some more games if the big tournaments get canceled."

Humphries too believes it is possible that South Dakota could still play a state tournament.

"Our coaches meeting on Zoom, one of the topics that will be discussed will be if we can find a three- or four-day weekend in which all of us could show up and host our own state tournament, and the winner would be considered the state winner," he said. "I think there is a good possibility unless the virus does get worse in the state."

Humphries added that there is really nothing to prevent them from having some sport of season unless the City of Rapid City closes the facilities. Even then, if they had to, they would play all of their games on the road.

"I think for 320, most of my players, they understand I will find a way to do something," Humphries said. "I'll find a way to make sure that I will get games in and players are still able to be seen by colleges, and we'll still play competitive games and teams. We'll make it worth their while."

On Twitter Sunday, the Sioux Empire Baseball Association said both the Sioux Falls East and West programs would continue this season as long as the City of Sioux Falls allows activities to begin on May 29.

"Our hope is for the summer to function as planned with the communities we participate with," according to the Tweet. "We expect that many, if not all, out of state tournaments may be canceled. As those decisions are made by those host organizations, schedules will be adjusted accordingly."

According to WyoSports (Cheyenne, Laramie, Wyo. newspaper sports departments), Wyoming American Legion state chairman Cody Beers was scheduled to have a videoconferencing call with all of Wyoming’s coaches and board presidents Sunday night to discuss how the state is moving forward. It is expected that most Wyoming teams, such as Cheyenne Post 6, the Casper Oilers and the Gillette Roughriders — all Post 22 and 320 opponents throughout the years — are also planning to play this season as well.

The Hardhats are scheduled to open the season June 10 at home against West Fargo, N.D., while the Stars will open at Sturgis June 3.

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