PENNLIVE – In the ongoing efforts to curtail the spread of the coronavirus, American Legion officials last week announced the cancellation of all national tournaments, including the World Series scheduled for August in Shelby, N.C.
While hope remained for Pa. American Legion teams to offer revised versions of local and state tournaments, that wish was denied Monday.
In a prepared statement, the Pa. Department of the American Legion canceled the 2020 baseball season.
“We were kind of hoping they would wait it out a little bit and see what transpired over the next month or two months,” Linglestown coach Barry Shipley said.
“We still wanted to try and do something, if possible, based on the governor’s approval for maybe a regional and state tournament. Obviously, this is something that is very serious and we have to think of safety first.”
“My decisions to cancel State Police Youth Camp, Keystone Boys State and Baseball were difficult but necessary in this COVID-19 environment,” said Robert E. John, Pa. American Legion Department Commander in a statement first reported by WCCA AM1160 in Homer City.
“All Department of Pa. programs and activities are canceled until further notice. I sympathize with all who are involved in our baseball program across the state, but I will not gamble with the health and/or safety of our players, coaches, umpires, staff, their families and fans of the sport.”
Shipley said officials and coaches from 10 teams in Dauphin County were looking at possible start dates as late as June, should conditions allow it.
The state’s ALB season, for players 19&under, typically begins around Memorial Day.
Ephrata Post 429 was set to host this year’s Region 4 tournament in late-July at War Memorial Field, with Berwick playing host to the state tournament this season.
Shipley, in his 15th season coaching Linglestown Post 272, also said it was Dauphin County’s year to qualify two teams to the eight-team Region 4 tournament.
“It’s a great thing to have because it’s a great opportunity and experience for kids to play against other high-quality teams in line for the state tournament,” Shipley said.
According to Shipley, Dauphin County coaches will continue to search for ways to provide some competition to players, just not under the American Legion authority.
Once again, all plans would hinge on guidelines set by the governor’s office.
“The high school kids lost their opportunity to play. For those seniors, they may never play baseball again. It’s disappointing, and we have a number of kids in our group that won’t get to play with their friends,” Shipley said.
“Maybe we can play a couple of tournaments or have a showcase. We’re going to pursue that a little bit, but that’s going to come down to what the governor tells us. That has to be our priority.”
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