Vermont won’t have an American Legion baseball season this summer.
The state office notified its posts of the decision on Thursday in a letter from department commander Ron LaRose. The move follows the national body’s April 7 announcement to abandon its World Series and regional tournaments, as well as other states’ cancellations in the days since.
It will be just the fourth time the state has not held an American Legion tournament since its first in 1928. The last time it happened was 1945, when Vermont went three straight years without crowning a champion during World War II.
The state had 16 American Legion teams last season, with Brattleboro’s Post 5 winning the championship for the second time in four years.
The Legion season typically runs from mid-June through the state tournament at the end of July.
In his letter, LaRose outlined several effects of the COVID-19 pandemic that factored into his decision.
Due to financial constraints, LaRose wrote, some posts supporting teams had already planned to scrap their programs for this season without their lounges open to support the program.
Because many Legion baseball venues are located at schools that have been closed for weeks, the fields would likely need significant upkeep to get in shape, according to LaRose.
But the “most important reason” LaRose cited was the concern for potential injuries. With the high school season shelved until at least May — if it takes any form at all — athletes would be behind the curve needed to play a schedule that features 24 games in a little more than a month.
“Legion Baseball strives on the condition of the high school baseball players with their two plus months of conditioning playing their season,” he wrote.
Some of Vermont’s Legion squads have expressed a desire to play baseball in some form this summer, even if it isn’t affiliated with the long-standing organization.
On Twitter, Post 91 said it will try to reclassify as a non-Legion program for one summer in order to play.
“Once the state is safe, we will be back on the field playing,” Post 91 wrote.
The S.D. Ireland program is also exploring available options to get on the field this summer.
“We are working relentlessly in finding another way to play baseball this summer as long as the community health and conditions improve. Please stay healthy and safe!” it stated in a Twitter post.
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