Salisbury Press

Friday, May 29, 2020
PRESS PHOTO BY CHUCK HIXSONTwo Lehigh Valley Legion teams line up for the pregame oath before a 2019 playoff game. PRESS PHOTO BY CHUCK HIXSONTwo Lehigh Valley Legion teams line up for the pregame oath before a 2019 playoff game.

LV Legion cancels season

Thursday, April 23, 2020 by Mike Haines mhaines@tnonline.com in Sports

After the spring high school sports season was canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic, baseball players surely looked to the American Legion season as their only chance to get on a field this summer.

That chance ended last Monday when the Pennsylvania American Legion canceled the season in the state. That came days just after the American Legion announced the cancellation of regional and national tournaments.

“These times are unparalleled,” said Richard Anderson of the American Legion’s Americanism Commission in a statement on the organization’s web site. “And while it is distressing to think of all those youth across the nation who are disappointed to learn of the cancelation 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. The Americanism Commission feels this is the right thing to do.”

Lehigh Valley Legion President Jeff Smith agreed with the decision, but that didn’t lessen his disappointment for the players who are missing the season.

“It breaks my heart,” said the third-year league president who has been head coach at Lower Macungie for six years. “I feel awful for the seniors and last-year players.”

Most legion players are in their late teens. They are high school juniors and seniors or college freshmen. Very few have professional careers in their future, but nearly all of them have been playing the game since tee ball. They often cherish those last few seasons of legion and high school baseball.

This year they were denied both by no fault of their own.

“It’s a double whammy,” Smith said, referring to the cancellation of both the high school and legion seasons. “Now they’re waiting a whole year until they get on the baseball field again.”

Smith said he hopes the fall seasons might be able to start early, even in late July or August, but only if it’s safe for players.

“We’re better safe than sorry,” he said. “At the end of the day it’s just baseball.

“We all care about the kids and we’re going to miss them. My favorite day of the year is always that first day of practice.”