American Legion Baseball History
American Legion Baseball:
Is amateur baseball played by 13-to-19-year-olds in fifty states in the U.S. and Canada. More than 3,500 teams participate each year. The American Legion Department of South Dakota established the program in 1925 at Milbank, South Dakota.
According to the American Legion, the purpose of American Legion Baseball is to give players “an opportunity to develop their skills, personal fitness, leadership qualities, and to have fun.
The league still stands behind the traditional values upon which it was founded in 1925. American Legion Baseball has taught hundreds of thousands of young Americans the importance of sportsmanship, good health and active citizenship. The program is also a promoter of equality, making teammates out of young athletes regardless of their income levels or social standings.
Community service has always been a core value of The American Legion. In 1925, this commitment was furthered to include a baseball program.
The first American Legion Baseball World Series was held in Philadelphia in 1926. Yonkers, N.Y, Post 321 beat a team from Pocatello, Idaho, capping off what appeared to be a successful first season.
The league, however, hit a few growing pains in its second year. In 1927, the Legion’s national convention convened in Paris. With the organization’s financial coffers stretched thin from the trip’s expenses, the Legion couldn’t fund a World Series. No champion was named and the future of American Legion Baseball looked bleak, as the inaugural season wound up costing more than originally planned.
But the Legion’s Americanism director, Dan Sowers, worked to keep the league afloat. The tournament format needed $50,000, and Sowers was determined to raise it. Early in 1928, he went to an executive meeting for professional baseball, hoping to reach a sympathetic ear. He found one in Commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis, who pledged a $50,000 annual donation from Major League Baseball. Legion Baseball resumed in 1928, and by 1929 participants were coming from every state and the District of Columbia.
Major League Baseball and American Legion Baseball don’t have a formal partnership, but the two owe each other a tremendous debt of gratitude. MLB has sponsored Legion Baseball almost since its inception, and Legion Baseball has returned the favor, churning out major league prospects since the alumni base has been old enough to be scouted.
View American Legion Baseball legends who have made it to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York, to include others who have not, but are names you will be familiar with. Click Here