Bob Harbison says the local American Legion baseball team will play ball this summer, it just may not look like at typical Legion season.
The American Legion Post 68 Aces team has already been selected, along with new coach Adam Driver, but play has been put on ice along with all youth sports in Kentucky amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The state Legion organization has already canceled postseason plans for regionals and a World Series.
Harbison said the local team is awaiting word as to whether there will be any sort of season at all, as some states have already canceled altogether.
“It’s pending what they say,” he said. “It is possible we might play an independent, short schedule.”
Harbison, a member of Post 68 in Kuttawa, is the liaison between the Post and its youth baseball team comprised of teens from around western Kentucky. The Aces have two squads, both a senior and junior team with players ranging in age from 14 to 19.
Both teams have seen a lot of success in recent years. The senior squad is the reigning back-to-back state champion, while the junior team had won back-to-back titles prior to that.
While postseason hopes are dashed, Harbison said the Post is ready to field a team as soon as they get the green light, even if it is not an official Legion team.
Currently, the team is not behind a typical schedule, as practice and games usually don’t start until June because many times the teens are still in postseason play with their respective high school teams.
“It’s a big deal,” said Harbison. “We’re ready to go if we get the availability of the field.”
Gov. Andy Beshear is phasing in Kentucky’s return to normal, and June 15 is the date marked for low-contact youth sports to be allowed to begin. Judge-Executive Wade White said that date is good enough for him to allow the Aces to begin utilizing the field at Lee S. Jones Park.
Harbison said Legion ball is important to the boys who play, with the season acting as their best hope to show off skills to college scouts.
Several former team members are currently attending college on scholarships offered by programs scouting Legion ball.
“Legion ball is highly scouted by colleges,” he said, indicating about 70% of American players in Major League Baseball having played baseball at the Legion level.
“It may not be under auspices of Post 68, but we will see the boys have a chance to play.”