The Alliance to fill void after Legion National cancels 2020

Posted by Van Williams, ALB Media Director | May 12, 2020

The American Legion National Organization pulled the plug on baseball in 2020, but that doesn’t mean the season is sunk.


The Alliance for ALB in Alaska has thrown players a life preserver.


“We do not want this to be another thing that has been taken away from them,” said Alaska Legion Department Chair Russ Baker.


The Alaska nonprofit led by Steve Nerland and Don Winchester will create a league and manage daily operations of an unofficial season that would closely resemble a traditional Legion experience for players ages 13 to 19.


There are still lots of details to be determined - like how many teams, how many games, starting date - but the Alliance hopes to have a regular season and a postseason tournament to determine an unofficial state champion.


“We want kids playing baseball," said Baker, who will work closely with the Alliance as a senior advisor.


The Alliance has long been involved with youth baseball, whether it was securing funding to build turf fields, providing media coverage with live broadcasts or helping the league expand to a record 17 Legion programs.


The Alliance is ready, willing and able to step up to the plate.


“I want to thank Steve and Don for their insight,” said Baker. “They have a lot of the infrastructure already in place that will allow us to move quickly.”


There is planned a virtual mandatory meeting for coaches coming soon to answer questions and talk about protective measures to keep players compliant with COVID-19 safety guidelines set by state and city leaders.


There are plenty of hurdles to overcome before we hear ‘Play ball!’


But this is a much-needed win for the Alaska baseball community.


Last month, National canceled the Legion World Series and all eight regional tournaments throughout the country. Now, National is ending all support of all baseball activities, which basically ended any kind of official season.


“The American Legion National Organization staff and volunteers are not authorized to address or help with any Department (Alaska) situations,” Baker said. “At this time, we will suspend any official American Legion activities, training and background checks.”


Coaches in the new Alliance league would be required to meet the same state standards of Legion coaches to participate, such as Protect Youth Sports background checks and abuse training.