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Fall baseball a possibility for Legion this year

NEW ULM — Second District Legion Baseball Director Vern Kitzberger of New Ulm said that there is the possibility of a fall baseball season for American Legion in Minnesota this year.

Kitzberger said that possibility came after a Thursday evening teleconference with other District and State American Legion baseball officials.

That fall baseball season would begin around September 1 and perhaps determine a state champion with playoffs starting in late September or early October.

“If we would have a state tournament we would do like high school football with regional sites and end up with a site for the final four.

“We did send out surveys on Friday to all of the coaches for American Legion and Junior Legion in Minnesota to gage the interest in a fall season,” Kitzberger said. “We will be meeting again next Wednesday to go over the findings of the survey and make a decision that night. There will be a lot of work for us to do in a short period of time but we need to find out how interested teams are who want to play fall baseball.”

Kitzberger said that there was no discussion on the Minnesota State High School League’s decision to move high school baseball in 2021 to a season beginning May 15 and running until July 15, which in essence ends legion baseball in Minnesota.

In an email from Erich Martens, Director of the MSHSL, he said that “any adjustment in seasons, both within a calendar or in terms of length of season, etc, are only for this school year. There have only been Board exceptions to bylaws for the 2020-21 that have been created rather than the rewrite of bylaws.”

Kitzberger said that from New Ulm’s standpoint, that if everything stays as is for next year, that decision will severely hurt New Ulm’s Legion program financially.

“Our two biggest money-makers in order to fund our program are our Junior Classic and Upper Midwest Classic,” he said. “But under the current format that the [MSHSL] has, we cannot have them because high school baseball players are not allowed to play with anyone else during their high school season. So I do not know if we could have time to move our tournaments back enough. There would probably be a lot in a one or two-week window. Then we would probably start our normal playoff season the third week in July. That is all up in the air because we knew that would be a long discussion.”

Even if the MSHSL would allow players to play both high school and legion baseball, it would not be something that would work out well.

“Then you would have legion and high school baseball teams fighting over players,” Kitzberger said. “Players cannot do both at the same time and it is not good for anyone to get in a battle for players. It is not good for either program.

“We may request that the Legion and the MSHSL sit down and come up with some exceptions. But also a lot of the high school baseball coaches also coach legion baseball.”

Also, “Club Baseball” has sprung up in Minnesota where players from an area are selected to play on a team.

“We are concerned about that — we do not want to lose players,” Kitzberger sad. “There are a lot more lessons to be learned from playing legion baseball as far as being community-oriented and playing as a team rather than showing off as an individual for scouts and coaches.”

Kitzberger, who is also on the New Ulm Legion Baseball Committee, did say that New Ulm Legion will probably be looking at some fundraisers next year.

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