High school and college baseball has already been cancelled, and now there will be no American Legion ball.

The American Legion Department of Minnesota Executive Committee, Minnesota American Legion Baseball Committee and Minnesota American Legion Commander Mark Dvorak have cancelled the 2020 summer season out of concerns for safety of players, coaches, umpires, fans and volunteers during the coronavirus pandemic.

“Safety has always been important in American Legion baseball,” Director of Minnesota American Legion Baseball Randy Schaub of Danube said in a press release May 9 following a video conference. “As much as we wanted to play this year, we cannot take chances with the players, coaches and fans we oversee.”

“It was a difficult decision that affects many young people and their parents,” Dvorak said. “The American Legion is a major proponent of the sport of baseball, and we hope to return even stronger in 2021.”

Back on April 7, the American Legion World Series planned for August was cancelled, along with the eight regional tournaments. That meant for the first time since 1927 there would be no national champion crowned.

The Minnesota committee met April 11 and held off cancelling the season until May 9. At that time, states could decide on their own if they still wanted to have a season, but it would end at their own state tourneys.

On Sunday, May 10, the National Headquarters for American Legion Baseball suspended the remaining 25 states yet to make the decision, including South Dakota.

For Shakopee’s high school and American Legion head coach Tom Schleper, he’s hoping the can salvage some type of baseball this summer for his players.

“We will continue to explore our options – if and when we could possibly practice or play independently at any point this summer,” Schleper said. “We will leave that option open at this time and will do all we can to get the players on the field in any capacity possible – provided we are given the go-ahead and it is safe for all to do so.”

Why not wait until the end of month to make the decision for summer baseball?

Gov. Tim Walz’ stay-at-home order was extended to May 18, so the Minnesota board could have worked with the state on how an abbreviated season could work, providing the some social distancing restrictions were lifted.

Insurance premiums for all teams in the state for the season were due by May 15, but the Minnesota board had the option to extend that to June 1.

According to the West Central Tribune in Willmar, the board was informed May 8 that “it would not receive support from the national Legion baseball committee. The state was no longer allowed to proceed with the insurance and the registration processes and was also barred from using the Legion logos.”

That pretty much sealed the fate of summer baseball.

“This is one of the worst days in all of my time in baseball,” Minnesota Baseball Committee member Jim Peck, who has been involved in Legion baseball for 57 years, said in the release.

There were 366 Minnesota teams fielded in the state in 2019, and 357 teams were signed up for 2020. Minnesota American Legion Baseball is the largest among the 50 states.

Burnsville’s Alimagnet Fields was supposed to be the host of the 16-team Minnesota State Legion Championships July 30 to Aug. 2.

The Legion World Series has been held in Shelby North Carolina every year since 2011. This year’s championships were set for Aug. 13-18.

The eight regional tournaments were supposed to be Aug. 5-9. Minnesota teams are part of Region 6.

There are have been five Minnesota teams to win a national title since the inception of a national championship in 1926. Richfield was the the state’s first winner in 1943, followed by Edina in 1983, New Brighton in 1999, Rochester in 2003 and Eden Prairie in 2011.

More information is available at www.minnesotalegionbaseball.com.

Tom Schardin covers sports for Savage and Prior Lake. He is dependable, sarcastic and always joking around. Tom enjoys running and swimming and is often busy coaching his two kids' sports teams.

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