Ball players 17 and under sought for local American Legion team

Staff Writer
Pawhuska Journal-Capital

Baseball players between the ages of 14 to 17 from all around Osage County are being sought for an American Legion Baseball team that will represent Pawhuska Post 198.

Team organizer Floyd Brown said the squad is looking to fill out its roster as soon as possible, since games are being scheduled for July. He encouraged interested players to call him at 918-287-1714.

Brown said he hopes to put together a competitive squad that will represent the area this year, as well as in the future.

“We want to have a team already going when the new local sports complex opens,” said Brown. “I think there we think it will bring a lot of interest.”

Brown expects the local American Legion Junior League team to compete against squads from Oklahoma, Kansas, Arkansas and Louisiana. He said the schedule will include games on the road and at home in Pawhuska.

American Legion Baseball, which is now considered a national tradition, traces its beginnings to 1925. The idea was initiated by the organization’s state chapter from South Dakota, which adopted a resolution that gained a vote of approval at that year’s national convention in Omaha, Neb.

Fifteen states were represented at the first American Legion World Series held in 1926. The next season, it all very nearly came to an end, however, as bugetary problems caused the World Series to be cancelled.

With the future of the fledgling youth program looking grim, the commissioner of professional baseball stepped up to provide for a $50,000 annual donation that kept the American Legion idea alive.

By 1929, teams from every U.S. state and Washington, D.C., were participating in American Legion Baseball. Also each year, the winning team from the Legion program’s World Series has received a free trip to the World Series of Major League Baseball.

The Great Depression nearly derailed American Legion Baseball a short time later when financial hardships brought an end to the endowment from the pro leagues. However, contributions by several of the country’s newspaper publishers, and from the owner of Cities Service Co., rescued the program, again.

Almost 10 million players have taken part in American Legion Baseball during its long and colorful history. This includes some 100,000 on over 5,000 teams which will head to the field this summer. Also, more than half the members of current collegiate teams are products of the program.

Among the baseball elite who gained experience on American Legion diamonds are Albert Pujols, Ted Williams, Yogi Berra, Joe DiMaggio, Greg Maddux, Frank Robinson, Ryne Sandberg and Chipper Jones.

The first American Legion alumnus to be inducted into the Hall of Fame was pitching great Bob Feller, who in 1962 received a plaque from the program in recognition of that achievement.

“Truthfully, I feel I should have given a plaque to The American Legion rather than receiving on from it,” Feller was quoted as saying.