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Vermont legion cancels season

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 4/20/2020 9:00:12 PM
Modified: 4/20/2020 9:00:08 PM

WHITE RIVER JUNCTION — Vermont American Legion baseball has gone dark for the summer, choosing to quickly follow the cancellation of national and regional tournaments with the elimination of its season.

State officials made the call late last week, and state baseball commissioner Scott Stevens confirmed it over the weekend. Stevens said Vermont canceled early — rather than playing a wait-and-see game as other states have done — out of concern for the work and expense required of the state’s posts to support baseball.

Vermont American Legion commander Ron LaRose made the ultimate decision, Stevens said.

“We all want to play; you know this,” Stevens said in a phone interview. “The coaches and managers want it; it’s pure baseball. I have that same feeling for the game myself. But I’d say the commander took all of that information together, reviewed it, made his decision and decided to announce this early.

“He understands waiting, but he felt that by waiting we would create a false hope, in a sense. We made the decision so teams can have the opportunity to move on.”

Justin Devoid, who was to enter his first season as White River Junction Post 84 head coach this summer, and Randolph Post 9 coach Jim Hewitt could not be reached for comment. Hewitt’s recruiting territory includes White River Valley School in South Royalton.

Stevens said 11 of the state’s 17 programs get their funds through the work of their sponsoring Legion posts. They must raise money not only for their teams but for all other activities in which they engage. The remaining six programs are so-called non-post teams that seek their own financial assistance.

In addition to calling off the baseball season, Vermont has also shut down other youth-based programs. That also follows cancellations at the national level.

Stevens said the elimination of the season doesn’t mean programs can’t engage in baseball activities this summer. For instance, workouts would be theoretically possible, pending changes in Vermont’s social-distancing guidelines, “as long as they know that Legion baseball in no way may be used: the logo, the uniforms, stuff like that,” he added. “They will have to come up with something else.”

New Hampshire officials remain in a wait-and-see posture. Pete St. Pierre, manager of the Lebanon Post 22 program, said N.H. officials have sent a letter to Gov. Chris Sununu seeking clarity on whether the state will open up enough to attempt a season, even if it gets a late start.

“If the governor feels there’s no possible way to do it, we’ll have to cancel,” St. Pierre said. “We want to give the kids a chance to play baseball this summer.”

The New Hampshire American Legion season is scheduled to start on June 15.

The senior and junior state tournaments are set for Manchester’s Gill Stadium in late July and early August; both could be moved a week or two later if the Granite State season started late.

Greg Fennell can be reached at gfennell@vnews.com or 603-727-3226.




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