American Legion Baseball is a national institution, having thrived through a world war, several national tragedies, and times of great prosperity as well as great despair.
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. American Legion Baseball has been, and continues to be, a stepping stone to manhood for millions of young men who have gone on to serve their country or community, raise families or play the sport at the highest level.
American Legion Baseball enjoys a reputation as one of the most successful and tradition-rich amateur athletic leagues. Today, the program registers teams in all 50 states plus Canada. Each year young people, ages 13 to 19, participate. Since its inception in 1925, the league has had millions of players, including countless who have gone on to play in college and professional baseball, with 68 inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Legion Baseball also has a reputation for serving the young people who play for it. In college scholarships, the league annually awards a total of $25,000 – $500 for a player selected from each department based upon leadership, character, scholarship and financial need. Recently, the Legion passed a resolution allowing corporate sponsorship, in the hope of creating more financial aid for college. Diamond Sports already funds $25,000 in scholarships for the Legion Baseball Player of the Year and the eight regional players of the year. Eight players receive a $2,500 scholarship and the “Captain” of the All-Academic Team receives a $5,000 scholarship.
In 2018 Alex Kelch from Post 7 Tucson was awarded a $500 scholarship from the Department of Arizona and was selected as one of the regional winners of the $2,500 scholarship.
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. The number of former Legion players who have gone on to the pros is far too large to chart. More than half of current major-leaguers played Legion Baseball. So did almost every working MLB manager, along with several former commissioners. In all, more than 60 program graduates are in the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Naturally, Legion Baseball’s alumni base includes some of the sport’s most recognizable names. Yogi Berra played for Fred W. Stockham Post 245 in St. Louis and was once quoted as saying it was the most fun he ever had. Ted Williams suited up for a post in San Diego. Frank Robinson led his Oakland, Calif., team to the only back-to-back national championships in program history. Babe Ruth was too old to join when Legion Baseball started, but he spent the final years of his life promoting the program as its director of operations. Other prominent players include Justin Verlander, Ryne Sandberg, Roy Campanella, Dusty Baker, Albert Pujols, Greg Maddux and Chipper Jones, Bryce Harper.
Tucson American Legion League is one of the most tradition filled programs in Tucson and Southern Arizona. For over 50 years plus the Tucson American Legion League has followed the values and standards of the National American Legion Baseball program.
The program has been home to thousands of players from Tucson and Southern Arizona who have had the opportunity to play in a highly competitive summer league. The league has had a long-standing tradition of excellence on the state and national levels. Since 1980 a Tucson American Legion team has captured 35 state championships and has had one team advance all the way to the American Legion World Series (Post 7 Tucson).
The support from local veteran organizations, American Legion Posts and business sponsors have played a major role in the long- term success of the Tucson American Legion League.
Players that play American Legion Baseball understand that they are committing to participate in a long-standing baseball tradition not only locally, but nationally. The Tucson Legion league is not a recreational type league—the league is highly competitive where being successful on the field and in the classroom is promoted and commitment to the team is a priority.
Players today have many other choices when it comes to their summer baseball playing, but unlike the large number of “weekend” and showcase tournaments where players play mainly as individuals to be “seen” by collegiate and professional scouts the emphasis on working as a team, striving for a championship and creating memories is not a priority as it is with American Legion Baseball.
The American Legion Posts that sponsor some of the teams in the league, players must understand and be aware that the Post sponsors are made up of veterans who have served our country and they work hard to raise funds during the years to sponsor a legion team. In turn the expectation is when joining an American Legion team that the priority to the Legion team is number one.
When a player decides to miss a legion game to go and practice or play in a tournament with a “travel tournament” team, this is not acceptable and shows a lack of commitment and appreciation to our veterans and supporters. Therefore, it is important that before a player plays American Legion Baseball, they understand that for the summer season, they are demonstrating their appreciation and commitment to our veterans.
All inquiries and requests are to be emailed to: [email protected].