The 2013 kickoff meeting took place at Helmet-Ingals on Wednesday evening instead of Monday due to inclement weather. Zone Chairman for District 3-4, District 5, District 6 and District 9, Joe Finn was in attendance providing direct communication to all the coaches and managers from the recent Mid-Winter meeting held in Albany January 25-27.
The main message coming down to the District is starting in 2015, there will no longer be allowed two legion teams in any one base school. "The 5th District is the only district in New York State that has this situation", said Joe Finn. The 5th has been allowed to modify the National rules for some time now but the State Chairman, Bruce Mayfield has mandated that this practice will no longer be allowed beginning the 2015 season".
The new ruling effects Clonan-Wicks-Staley and New Hartford Post, where New Hartford High School is considered the base school. The second is between Adrean Post and Fort Schuyler Post where the base school is Notre Dame High School and the last situation is between Parkhurst Post and Whitestown Post where Whitesboro High School is considered the base school for both teams. There was discussion as to how these situations were supposed to be resolved and the teams involved were told that the individual teams should first try to resolve the problem. Should there be no resolution by the individual Posts, then the State Chairman would decide. Look for the resolution to all three situations to be posted here on legionbaseball.com.
In 2014 the Department of New York American Legion Baseball will only allow wood bats for all play. Composite bats will be illegal in New York only. Wood bats have always been allowed in American Legion but the BBCOR bats will see their last days in New York the 2013 season. We should see quicker games and lower Batting Averages and ERA's until the hitters get comfortable handling wood!
Also beginning in 2015, 19 year olds attending college will no longer be considered eligible for Legion Baseball. This decision seems to come with mixed feelings on many levels. Many expect, and rightfully so, to see a lowering of the competitive level of Legion baseball if the 19 year olds are gone. The change in the eligible birthdates from the former August 1st date to January 1st, flooded teams with too many college players. The college player strengthens the teams, but severely minimized the need for college coaches to follow legion baseball since most 19 year olds were already committed to some college regardless whether they were playing for their college or not. The age change will put players on the field that college coaches can recruit or at the very least follow. A 16-17 year old simply won't get much playing time when a coach can put a team of 19 year olds on the field. This change will bring college coaches around because all the players on the field will be an opportunity to recruit.
Keeping with that theme was the announcement of the first Northeast American Legion All-star Game to be held August 10th, one week after the State Championship Series will be held in Utica, New York. Check out the legionbaseball.com Headlines for more information on the All-star Game.
The last thing being considered is whether the 5th District will have one or two divisions. A vote was taken and the ayes won to have two (2) divisions. Although not confirmed officially, the 5th District appears to have anywhere between 15 to 17 teams. If we schedule a single division play, we will all be playing one less game than the total number of teams. However, if we go to two divisions we could go to 25 to 26 games. Some managers said that they could only afford to play in one division so the league will re-visit the format of the schedule to try accommodating everyone. However, there needs to be a creative effort to expand schedules beyond 14-16 games, which barely matches lower level competition. The best American Legion baseball teams have always provided competitive schedules for its players. It is what has elevated Legion baseball beyond recreational summer activities. A resurgence of the game in general, at any level, for any organization is directly related to the level and frequency of competition that we place the players in. If a summer schedule takes up less than 40% of the available summer playing time, elevating the image of Legion baseball will be a tough task.