The boys of summer won’t have a game to play this year.
Last week, the American Legion National Organization canceled its sponsorship for the 2020 baseball season due to the coronavirus pandemic, which meant the end of the line for South Charleston Post 94 and the rest of the Legion teams in West Virginia that were hoping to play starting in July.
The state of Ohio called off its American Legion baseball season on May 5, but some states like West Virginia were still looking to play until the national directive was issued, which scrubbed nationwide regional tournaments and the American Legion World Series.
“We were holding out hope we could have an abbreviated Legion baseball season this summer in West Virginia,’’ said Post 94 manager Dave Potter, “but the memo ended that.’’
The national organization left the door open for individual Legion posts to play games if they wanted, but according to the memo, they “shall be participating in a sporting event not sponsored, nor endorsed in any manner by the American Legion National Organization, but sponsored and endorsed solely by the group [for which] the team is named.’’
Potter said that possibility wasn’t likely for most teams, including his.
“What it amounts to,’’ he said, “is the national organization absolving themselves of all liability if somebody tried to use the American Legion name. The American Legion doesn’t want any liability, and I understand this.
“But saying that, I sure don’t want the liability of getting our own insurance. Heaven forbid if anyone caught it — players, umpires, coaches or even fans — then we’re subject to be sued by anybody, and I don’t want that responsibility. I want the kids to play as much as anyone, but I don’t want to go through a lawsuit.’’
Some of the top athletes expected to play for Post 94 this season included the foursome of Noah Cummings, Casey Kemplin, Darin Flowers and Drew Whitman of defending state Class AAA champion St. Albans, Enzo Lewis (Hurricane), Peyton Stover (Winfield) and Dane Petersen (Ripley).
“We were going to have a real good team,’’ said Potter, who would have been coaching Legion ball for a 21st straight season.
Potter said a national petition has begun to circulate that would give an extra year of eligibility to any player who would have been a high school senior during the 2020 Legion season.