BANGOR – The cancellation of this year’s American Legion Baseball season was hard to hear for in-state American Legion officials.
“I can’t say it’s not very disappointing,” Maine American Legion baseball director, David Gray, said. “It was done with nothing but safety in mind which is the only thing we can do at this point.
Maine American Legion baseball was finalizing a return to play proposal to present to the State American Legion executive committee, but Monday’s announcement nixed the month long effort.
“The executive committee in late February early March voted to cancel our season. We were putting a proposal together to try to get their decision reversed,”
But, it hasn’t stopped some legion coaches from exploring alternate options.
“We really want to be able to look at our kids and be able to say we exhausted every avenue that we could,” Coffee News Comrades head coach, Dave Morris, said.
Morris and other coaches around the state are looking into playing a season not affiliated with American Legion baseball. There’s been no date set, but Morris acknowledged sometime in June once Stage 2 on Gov. Mills’ plan to restart Maine’s economy is in place.
“I think everybody has the same intentions in keeping everyone safe, but at the same time within those guidelines we would love to see those kids have the opportunity to play,”
Morris outlined two big hurdles in player safety and field availability.
He said, K&K Insurance, an insurance company used by American Legion baseball, will cover the prospective independent league. But, he still needs to find out if COVID-19 is included in that coverage.
“We want to make sure that we’re to the best of our ability we’re prioritizing the safety first and following the regulations of what the governor and the c-d-c’s saying as well as your local school’s and field and cities,” Morris said.
In terms of field availability school fields will most likely be closed this summer leaving limited space. Fields such as Mansfield Stadium in Bangor and Morton Field in Augusta serve as possible options.
Morris said he plans on speaking with Bangor Parks and Recreation shortly about playing games at Mansfield Stadium.
Gray mentioned Husson would not have made its field available this summer, which is where the legion state tournament would have taken place.
A lot needs to be down between now and the beginning of June, but it’s giving players hope.
“If this thing does follow through and there is a league outside American Legion I think there’s going to be so many guidelines that we’re going to have to do that I think it’s going to be pretty difficult for me to be stressed out about my health,” former Orono and Motor City baseball player, Connor Robertson, said.
This year’s legion season would have been the last for Robertson. The UMaine freshman says he understands why the season was canceled, but is looking forward to possibly having one last ride.
“It would mean a lot the past six, seven, eight months I’ve just been grinding in school and just studying a lot I think this would be a good time for me to have a relaxing baseball season for once in my life,” Robertson said.
“I’m only commenting personally, I think it’s terrific that these young people are going to try to play. That’s the whole purpose of American Legion baseball is to have young people playing and if they found another avenue to do it this year because of what’s going on I wish them the best,” Gray said.