In Washington, Legion baseball canceled for summer

Pete Caster/TribuneIn this 2019 photo, Palouse’s Mitch LaVielle grabs a high throw from the catcher as Lewis-Clark Twins runner DJ Ricard slides during an American Legion game at Lewis-Clark State’s Harris Field. The Washington American Legion baseball chairman, Don Hays, canceled the state’s season Wednesday because of the coronavirus pandemic.

A day after American Legion baseball canceled its regional and national tournaments, Washington pulled the plug on its Legion season.

The state’s baseball chairman, Don Hays, said he canceled the summer baseball league Wednesday because of the coronavirus pandemic.

“It’s basically to protect the kids and coaches and fans,” Hays said in an interview with the Moscow-Pullman Daily News. “We have no idea where this virus thing is going to go, how long it’s going to last.”

That means no games for Whitman County’s three teams: the Triple-A Palouse Patriots (Pullman), the Double-A Pullman Posse and the Single-A Whitman County Cougars (Colfax).

Legion baseball, which includes kids 13 to 19 years old, acts as a summer league after the high school season ends.

On Tuesday, the Americanism Commission of the American Legion, in consultation with national commander James William “Bill” Oxford, announced the cancellation of its eight regional tournaments as well as the World Series because of the virus.

However, the national organization left it in the hands of leaders at the local level to make determinations on their seasons.

In Idaho, there still is hope of having some form of a season.

“What we’re hoping to do is either have a May-June-July season, or a June-July-first part of August season,” said Abe Abrahamson, the baseball commander for Idaho, in an interview Tuesday with the Tribune. “We’re still planning on holding district tournaments for the Single-A and Double-A tournaments.”

That means the Moscow Blue Devils, an Idaho Single-A team, potentially could see the diamond.

Not so on the other side of the border.

“They’re taking a big risk,” Hays said of Idaho.

Hays said there are some people who want to play baseball, but they can’t do so under the Legion flag and teams aren’t allowed to wear their Legion uniforms if they do play.

But there is a chance teams could see the field in some sort of fall ball season.

“There’s some people who are talking about maybe getting a fall league going,” Hays said. “So in the next couple months, if it looks like the virus is going to go away or something like that, we could maybe do a fall ball league.”

Hays said that decision could come sometime during the next couple months. A big problem with holding baseball games is the current closure of schools and parks across the state, he said.

“We’re not even sure if we’re going to have a Major League Baseball season,” Hays said. “I feel terrible for the kids and the coaches and everything. I feel terrible about it. But the problem is we have people dying all over the country from this virus. It’s a serious illness.”

Donn Walden contributed to this report.

Stephan Wiebe can be reached at swiebe@dnews.com, by phone at (208) 883-4624 and on Twitter at @StephanSports.

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