American Legion Post 47 baseball coming in 2013

By Chuck Fiebernitz | Jun 24, 2012
Photo by: File An American Legion Post 47 baseball team would create more opportunities to play at the next level for Haywood County players such a Billy Lirely, who is at the University of Texas at Tyler.

I have never drank the “Kool-Aid” for this summer “recreational” baseball thing that Tuscola and Pisgah currently play once the high school baseball season concludes.
Since my arrival to Haywood County in July of 2004, I’ve asked the question “why rec ball” numerous times. I’ve been told the purpose is to develop skills. However, in my humble opinion, the problem is it doesn’t even remotely come close to improving the skill level and puts our baseball programs behind other programs  throughout the state that have legion ballclubs.
To make my case, South Stanly (1A), Whiteville (2A), Weddington (3A) and Middle Creek (4A) recently won NCHSAA baseball championships.
Can you guess what each team plays during the summer?
If you guessed American Legion baseball, give yourself a  gold star.
Well, after eight summers, I think it’s time for a change.
Shortly after the state championship series, I have assembled an exploratory committee of several prominent citizens from Haywood County for the sole purpose of establishing an American Legion Post 47 baseball team, beginning in May of 2013.
Since my initial meeting a week ago with adjutant Roy Pressley at our local Post 47 in Waynesville, the ball is moving forward — with great enthusiasm.
Not only do “we” have the full support of Post 47, we also have the full support of the office of  American Legion Baseball in North Carolina.
But one thing is lacking — support from the citizens and merchants of Haywood County.
And that’s what we are going to recruit over the coming months to hit a grand slam when Post 47 opens the 2013 season.  
Here’s my case for American Legion baseball, which is one of the most prominent and tradition-rich amateur athletic leagues in existence.
Currently, there are a total of 165 teams (tied with Illinois) in this state playing American Legion baseball, which is the fifth largest in the country.
More than half of the current major league players once played American Legion baseball.
Each year, more than 5,000 teams and 90,000 players compete with hopes of playing in the  American Legion World Series, which by the way is in Shelby through 2014.   
Over the past decade, travel ball or tournament and showcase teams have grown rapidly. But they require many families to spend inordinate amounts of money on these fashionable baseball teams.
To compound this financial dilemma, we do not have a large baseball complex in our county to play any travel ball home games or host showcase tournaments. Which simply means all our locally-based travel ball teams must travel and that gets expensive.
But before people jump into what may be packaged as a better baseball alternative, there are some points that should be considered and some questions that should be further examined.
1) How much money are you spending on “furthering your son’s baseball career?”
2) Who are you listening to for baseball advice?
3) What are your boys really learning and how much are they really progressing?
It’s time to start thinking about realistic answers to these questions in this era of “pay to play” baseball.
In so many ways, it appears parents and their sons measure the quality of a baseball team on how much it costs to join.
There are registration fees, entry fees, cost for uniforms and equipment, transportation and hotel expenses, while at the same time legion players pay very little if anything to play an equally if not a tougher level of competition — with more than half the games played locally.
In most cases, legion teams have a coaching staff who have played at some level professionally and who are coaching at the high school or college level in the spring.
Most travel ball teams are coached by well-intending dads, who have very limited experience coaching 17, 18 and 19 year olds.
At the end of the day, we are going to bring a legion baseball team to our county. Without a doubt, I know Post 47 baseball teams will play in front of large sellout crowds, because that is what we do in Haywood County.
The fine folks in this county are very proud of its sports traditions and support them unlike anywhere in the United States.
Oscar Wilde once said, “The youth of America is their oldest tradition.  It has been going on now for 300 years.”
So I ask you, please don’t let it stop now. Join us in bringing American Legion baseball to Haywood County, beginning May of 2013. Contact me by email at sports@themountaineer.com for more details.
Until then, are you ready for some American Legion baseball?

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