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Legion National Tourney, World Series canceled

WHEELING — Changes to the upcoming American Legion Baseball season have begun.

Due to restrictions brought upon by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Americanism Commission, through National Commander James William Oxford, announced the cancellation of all American Legion national tournaments for the 2020 season on Tuesday, which will include all eight regional tournaments and the American Legion World Series.

American Legion Baseball scholarships have also been suspended for the 2020 campaign.

As for Wheeling Post 1, hope remains.

The cancellation of the national tournaments will provide all states the option to push back and play a regular season and a possible state tournament at a later date without the need to meet a national deadline.

“The national tournament in most people’s eyes begins with the state tournament,” President of the American Legion Athletic Club, Don Tennant said. “We are still evaluating things and still have hopes. We’ll wait and see what happens and if the state health leaders open us up to play ball, we’ll still have hope for a five-week season starting on July 1.

“(Post 1) will play any American Legion post that fields a team and any tournament that moves forward for both varsity and junior varsity with the idea of inviting all West Virginia teams playing to come to Wheeling for the state tournament at year’s end.”

Wheeling Post 1 is slated to host the West Virginia state legion tournament this year.

“Baseball guys always hold out hope to play baseball but this is a very serious matter,” Tennant said. “I’m sure once pro sports make their determination, it will impact our decision very seriously.”

There is also still a decision to be made on whether players in their final year of legion baseball eligibility will be granted an extra season.

“Post 1 is in favor of lifting the age restrictions for seniors to come back,” Tennant said. “Some college freshmen get to play because they don’t turn 19 until after Jan. 1 but we are asking that all current graduating seniors be permitted to come back and play without regard to their age.

“I hope it passes because it’s sad for these guys.”

On the field, there is plenty to look forward to if the season does take place.

Wheeling Post 1, along with the likes of St. Clairsville Post 159 and Jefferson County Termana Post 33 are scheduled to play an 18-team tournament late in the season.

“We still have a calendar tournament held by Post 1 with Jefferson County, St. Clairsville and teams all over the region. Each team will host a 4-6 team pool at their home fields with the top 2 in each pool coming to Wheeling to play the weekend after the Beast of the East.

“The finals would be held at I-470 and Wheeling Park High School and the championship at I-470.

“We are still hopeful to play that tournament.”

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