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Guernsey sports Legion team again

Posted: Wednesday, Jun 19th, 2013


Photo/Andrew Towne, Torrington Telegram. The Guernsey Grizzlies are the newest incarnation of Legion baseball in Platte County.
GUERNSEY Ė For the first time in recent history, Guernsey is home to a baseball team sponsored by American Legion Post 95.

Through the dedicated efforts of a group of parents, faces usually seen in a Viking uniform are on the baseball diamond this summer.

Leading on the field are manager Dave Bye, Head Coach Ryan Bolinger and Asst. Coach Ryan Collar. Eleven players are on this summerís roster.

The American Legion baseball program has a storied history dating back to its conception in 1925 during a state convention in Milbank, South Dakota. MAJ John Griffith, a guest speaker who was also the collegiate commissioner of the Western Conference (now the Big Ten), spoke about the role athletics can play in the development of youth. From that convention, a resolution was proposed and endorsed at the national level and Legion baseball became a reality. In 1926, posts in 15 states organized and sponsored teams, drafted local schedules and conducted championship tourneys.

Today, the program registers over 5,400 teams in all 50 states, Canada and Puerto Rico. Almost 100,000 youths, ages 15 to 19, participate annually. Since its inception, the league has had 10 million players, and nearly 60 percent of current college players are program graduates. Major League Baseball and American Legion Baseball donít have a formal partnership, but the two owe each other a tremendous debt of gratitude. MLB has sponsored Legion Baseball almost since its inception, and Legion Baseball has returned the favor, churning out major league prospects since the alumni base has been old enough to be scouted. The number of former Legion players who have gone on to the pros is far too large to chart. More than half of current major-leaguers played Legion Baseball. So did almost every working MLB manager, along with several former commissioners. In all, more than 60 program graduates are in the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Legion Baseballís alumni base includes some of the sportís most recognizable names. Yogi Berra played for Post 245 in St. Louis, Ted Williams suited up for a post in San Diego. Frank Robinson led his Oakland, Calif., team to the only back-to-back national championships in program history. Current Yankees slugger Mark Teixeira played in the leagueís 1997 World Series. Babe Ruth was too old to join when Legion Baseball started, but he spent the final years of his life promoting the program as its director of operations. Other prominent players include Ryne Sandberg, Roy Campanella, Dusty Baker, Albert Pujols, Greg Maddux and Chipper Jones.

Yet baseball isnít the only area where former players have excelled. Legion Baseball graduates have gone on to prominence in other career fields. Former Vice President Dick Cheney played for Post 2 in Casper, Wyo. Famed journalist and author Tom Brokaw played Legion ball in South Dakota, and Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack was on a team in Pennsylvania.

Legion Baseball graduates are proud contributors throughout our society and often are the most successful people in their respective career fields.

Guernsey players now have an opportunity to join those ranks.










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