By JONATHAN ZWEYGARDT, Hays Post
The Hays Eagles and Hays Monarchs summer baseball teams are still planning to play this summer despite the National American Legion’s announcement this week that the organization has canceled all involvement in the 2020 summer baseball season.
Earlier this spring, in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, the American Legion National Organization canceled the regional and national tournaments for the 2020 season but left it up to each individual state decide if they would have a state tournament. But, on Sunday, the national organization announced the “shutdown all sponsorship and all involvement in baseball for the 2020 season."
Steve Queen, Kansas American Legion State Baseball chairman, said there were 24 states still planning to try and play American Legion baseball this summer but the national leadership’s decision to shut down made it virtually impossible for the states to go forward.
“They were going to pull the plug, so the portal where all of our registrations (were located was shut down),” Queen said. “They canceled all the insurance. So, everything that had been accomplished already had been undone.”
The leadership of both the Hays Eagles and Hays Monarchs confirmed this week they are planning to play this summer.
Skip Cox, Hays Eagles board president, said they will try to have just as many games as last season.
“It really doesn’t change a whole lot outside of postseason,” Cox said. “The American Legion isn’t tied to the doubleheaders we play during the week and a lot of the tournaments that we go to are not specifically Legion-sanctioned events. They’re independent.”
Trey Wentling of the Monarchs said “our season is on as scheduled.”
Any teams that chose to play in 2020 will be considered independent and will have to carry their own insurance.
Queen said as the current number of positive cases of coronavirus just now peaking in the Midwest safety is a big priority.
“Our most important concern in the health and safety of the people — of the kids that are playing and the spectators that come to watch,” he said.
Queen said he has been in contact with programs across the state trying to help them get the proper coverage that they need.
Cox said they will make sure they are insured before they move forward.
“The company that does our American Legion insurance is going to have another option,” Cox said. “As soon as we get all that covered, we can get after it.”
On the state level, Queen said the American Legion won’t have anything to do with it — he encourages programs to play as independents.
“There’s a bunch of teams around,” Queen said. “I know my local team, they’re going to continue their program as an independent.”
Cox said he anticipates some tournaments will get pushed back because of the late start, but the Wild West Fest Tournament is still set to go on as planned.