The American Legion Department of South Dakota plans to sanction baseball in the state this summer despite the American Legion announcing they will not sponsor or be involved with the 2020 season across the United States due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I think we look at the COVID-19 numbers and feel we are safe to play with precautions,” said Vermillion head coach Tom Heisinger. “However, we are biased. We want to play, but we also understand we need to keep people safe.”
Teams will have to follow guidelines and all COVID-19 policies locally and nationally. The state sanctioning the season is only to allow players to wear the American Legion patches on their jerseys without the expense of purchasing new ones. Therefore, it is up to the coaches to run tournaments.
“I think the season might feel a little different at first, especially since we normally have played around 15 spring games by now, along with practicing every day,” said coach Heisinger. “We are behind in that sense, but we are trying to make this season as normal as possible. We still get to wear our Post 1 jerseys, which will help with that.”
Vermillion will begin practicing in small groups June 1. Team practices will follow as soon as they are allowed.
“Our plan is to have kids use their own equipment as much as possible,” said coach Heisinger. “As well as limiting the number of kids at a practice.”
South Dakota Legion baseball plans to have a state tournament at the end of the summer. The region and national tournaments were canceled as the American Legion announced the cancelation of sponsoring a summer season nationwide.
“I'm hoping for a safe, successful, fun season,” said coach Heisinger. “We have two kids, Gray Peterson and Sam Ward, that will be playing their last summer of Post 1 baseball. We want to make it a special one for them.”
Post 1’s first game is a doubleheader against Beresford/Centerville scheduled for 5 p.m. Monday, June 8, at home in Prentis Park. It is undecided if fans can attend and how social distancing measures will be followed.