BUCKHANNON – The COVID-19 pandemic claimed another sport this week when American Legion national officials decided it was in the best interest of player safety to forgo the 2020 baseball season.
“The American Legion national organization canceled the 2020 baseball season due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” remarked West Virginia Legion assistant commissioner and Elkins Post 29 manager Chris George “The Legion wanted to withdraw themselves from all liabilities with the insurance and their name. COVID-19 is not covered on any insurance plans. So that makes the Legion liable in case a player, fan, coach or parent gets it.”
The cancelation of the regular season follows the cancelation of the American Legion World Series and regionals on April 8 and the West Virginia State Tournament on May 2.
George said the state considered playing a shortened season in the month of July during a recent conference call among state officials, but that idea was shelved after the announcement by the national office.
For Buckhannon Post 7 general manger Kevin Boring, he understands the reasons why the regular season was canceled but is still disappointed to know there won’t be American Legion baseball this summer.
“We all wanted get back to playing the game we love,” said Boring. “But I know in talking to Chris George that our West Virginia State Legion baseball leadership as well as the National American Legion Baseball people have spent a lot of hours looking into it and trying to make it work. There were a lot of issues and logistics that they addressed and ultimately the concern and safety of our players, coaches, umpires and those in attendance at games was paramount.
“That said, it is disappointing on many levels from all involved — the players, coaches, fans, our veterans and folks down at the local legion. I want to thank our players, parents and coaches for their patience over the past several weeks. We have all been sitting on the edge of our seats so to speak, waiting to get word if the season or partial season was going to happen. I have stayed in contact with Buckhannon-Upshur head coach Adam Squires since the American Legion and the high school program work together. It was kind of in the back of my mind as a possibility that the legion season could be in jeopardy just because this situation is something we have never had to deal with before. The severity of the virus is something that couldn't really be predicted.”
The American Legion National Organization did however circulate a memo Sunday to all state organizations saying that while they would no longer be affiliated with any type of play this season, if teams wanted to proceed on their own, they would do so outside of the Legion baseball umbrella.
George also stated that the regional area legion officials would consider giving an exemption to those players that would have played their final year this summer.
“I have talked to baseball chairmen and coaches in Ohio, Maryland, West Virginia and Minnesota and all are on board to try and convince nationals to let graduating seniors who turn 19 later this calendar year to have an extra year of eligibility,” stated George.
George said that decision will ultimately be made by national officials at a later date.