Legion dissolves sponsorship, Montana baseball teams need new way to play

By 
Jackson Mcmurrey
Thursday, May 14, 2020

Hardly two weeks ago, local jurisdictions gave the go-ahead to American Legion baseball teams in Montana to, once again, begin practices and other on-field activities. This was okay as long as they coincided with Phase I regulations released by Gov. Steve Bullock lifting his stay-at-home order to reopen the state of Montana due to the affects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Over the weekend, the American Legion National Organization released a numbered list of statements that would replace all past statements about the 2020 baseball season that led to the previous decision. Among items on the list:

“The American Legion National Organization has cancelled all 2020 season’s Regional Tournaments and The American Legion World Series. Concurrently, The American Legion National Organization has shut down all sponsorship and all involvement in baseball for the 2020 season.”

The Legion had cancelled the Regional and World Series earlier this year, not long after the initial impact of COVID-19.

The statements continued to include bits of information that let teams know that with this new change, any team that would have been playing Legion ball this 2020 season, will no longer be considered a “registered” American Legion baseball team, nor will they even be a part of the American Legion National Organization baseball program at all. Not until next season, at least. Local teams who have long been a part of the Legion’s baseball program, such as, Laurel Dodgers, Billings Scarlets, and the Royals will all be impacted by this, as they must now remove the American Legion patch from their sleeves and find a new way to make this season happen.

Furthermore on the Legion’s list: “Those departments that conduct this 2020 baseball season program will need to determine their rules, guidelines, schedules, insurance coverage, etc., for their own programs as The American Legion National Organization will not provide this assistance.”

Ron Edwards, Montana-Alberta American Legion Baseball general chairmen, told 406mtsports.com that insurance is for potential medical claims, but also for general liability for the program and is required by the Legion upon registration. Edwards said that individual teams are able purchase their own insurance, and advised coaches not to practice with their teams again until they are covered.

Voices in the matter have hinted at a new season under the name “Montana Baseball League,” which is predicted to still reflect the rules and regulations of American Legion baseball, though not affiliated with the Legion in any way. If it goes through, nothing is set in stone as to where this new alternative league will take the season or the teams, as many factors to playing still depend on Phase II to get the ball rolling. Until then, future determinations will continue to take place on a day-by-day basis.

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