By Josh Brown
Miami Valley Today
TROY — Ohio’s high school’s spring sports teams aren’t the only ones waiting to find out there future.
Having already seen most of its spring and even summer fundraising efforts cancelled, the Troy Post 43 American Legion baseball program, including its junior legion, legion and Legends teams, is now waiting to see when it could theoretically begin its 2020 season on the local level, even if there won’t be any national tournaments at the end of it.
“We’ve been trying to get a season going, but we’re waiting to find out what the high schools are doing before we can really get going,” Troy Post 43 coach Frosty Brown said.
The Ohio High School Athletic Association has postponed the start of spring sports until schools are allowed to be in session once again. Since March 13, Ohio’s schools have been closed in an effort to slow the spread of the pandemic caused by the coronavirus, COVID-19. The schools are tentatively set to reopen on May on May 4, with the OHSAA saying that the regular season for spring sports would begin on May 9.
For high school baseball specifically, the state tournament would be held on June 19-21 and the season would officially end on June 27 — but all of that hinges on the schools reopening on time, which could still change between now and May 4.
Brown said he is prepared either way.
“There’s two scenarios,” he said. “One is if high school season does go on, then we’ll have to move our state legion tournament back a week and start in the middle of June. The second is if high school doesn’t have a baseball season, then we’re prepared to start our season a little early, try to start the week before Memorial Day — but that would be a rush job if it happens.
“I’ve got two big stacks of papers and forms ready to go, one for each scenario. We just need to know which one will happen.”
Ohio also currently has limitations on group gatherings, and many of the facilities teams play on have been ordered closed. Those orders would have to be altered or lifted for the season to begin, and it could also mean playing games without fans present. And with many legion teams traveling long distances and staying at hotels, other problems could arise.
“We don’t know at what level we’ll be starting back up, or what or how many people will be allowed at the ballpark,” Brown said. “And with travel, we travel pretty much every weekend. How will that impact teams that need to stay in town overnight?
“We’re in new territory here — and it’s not very good territory.”
On a national level, the American Legion cancelled its regional tournaments and World Series on April 7. And even though Ohio is still planning to have a season, 32 other states have already cancelled theirs, with more cancellations possible as the pandemic and different states’ responses unfold.
Currently, Ohio’s state legion tournament is scheduled for July 29 to Aug. 2 in Lancaster, with the state’s eight regional tournaments preceding that.
“I haven’t heard anyone in our region of Ohio not planning on playing this summer,” Brown said. “Napoleon originally said they were cancelling their season, but just yesterday they said they were planning to play starting July 1. With the national tournaments in August, I kind of thought they jumped the gun a bit.”
The pandemic has hurt Troy Post 43 in other ways, too, particularly fundraising. With its monthly spaghetti dinners on hold and the Troy Strawberry Festival already cancelled this summer, many of the team’s ways to bring in money to pay for its trips have been cut off.
“It’s been tough,” Brown said. “With our spaghetti dinners, the Troy Strawberry Festival and the food truck rally, that’s probably 80 percent of our 2020 fundraising gone. I’m thinking of maybe expanding my fall batting leagues later this year, but it’s not pretty.”
One way or another, Brown said he’d never imagined anything like this happening — even in a career as long and storied as his.
“I never thought that an invisible microbe could do this to a program that’s been around for 53 years,” he said. “I’ve coached for 49 of those years, and I was preparing to have one more good season. We can’t have many more seasons like this.
“I coached at the high school level for 35 years, too, and I really feel for those kids. They didn’t get to start their season yet, and they might not ever know what they could have done. Even if we can come back for a short season, it’ll still be tough. We just want to get some kind of answer. But we’re ready to jump at whatever scenario happens.”
Contact Josh Brown at [email protected].
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