This blog is dedicated to bringing players, coaches, parents, and fans the finer points of the game of baseball.

Click here for an explanation of "By the Yard."

Have a question or recommendation for a future post? Email me at baseballbytheyard@gmail.com



Saturday, April 16, 2011

Kevin Manero - The case for American Legion baseball

Today is Baseball By The Yard's first guest post.  It comes from my right-hand man, Coach Kevin Manero, who along with being an assistant of mine at the high school level, is also an American Legion coach.  He is a former high school and Division I pitcher at LaSalle University and is a tremendous baseball guy.  Although the team and player names are specific to the suburban Philadelphia area, I think the theme and message from his piece are universal to baseball in America today. 

PAY TO PLAY - THE FINANCES AND THE PROMISES:

Coach Manero
Over the last approximately ten years, the concept of AAU baseball, otherwise referred to as Travel Ball or Tournament and Showcase teams, has increased in popularity and diverted many high school age baseball players away from the established, community based American Legion programs. As I enter my ninth season as an American Legion coach with an admitted bias, I continue to see many families spend inordinate amounts of money on these nouveaux programs, and I feel it is time to speak as a voice for Legion baseball. I am certainly not denouncing all tournament and travel teams (there are always exceptions to every point one may make for or against), and I am also not promulgating praise for every American Legion program, as certainly some need fixing and Legion ball itself is not without its own shortcomings, but before people jump into what may be packaged as a better baseball alternative, there are some points that should be considered and some questions that should be further examined.

How much money are you spending on "furthering your son's baseball career?"
Who are you listening to for baseball advice?
What are your kids really learning, and how much are they really progressing?

It's time to start thinking about these questions a little more diligently in this era of "pay to play" youth baseball. In so many ways, it appears that parents and their sons now feel they should measure the quality of a baseball program on how much it costs to join it. But, does it make sense to pay at least a $2,000 registration fee (sometimes much more) and then dish out more money on top of that for transportation and hotels, only to end up at a college where your counterparts on American Legion teams also landed, after paying much less to get to that point?

Also consider this: In the last six years, four players from the Hatfield and Nor-Gwyn Legion programs have advanced to play professional baseball, and over forty have gone on to play in college. (And that is just 2 of the 4,000 programs in the nation and nearly 400 in PA. These numbers may not mean much at first but consider these facts available at www.ncaa,org:
* Only 6.3% of high school baseball players go on to play NCAA baseball
* Only 0.44% of high school baseball players will be signed by a pro team
When you consider these meager percentages, it is clear that two of our most prominent local Legion baseball programs are doing a pretty good job of turning out players who advance beyond their percentage likelihood to the next level (and that is only mentioning two programs). Oh, and by the way - these players' parents are not spending thousands of dollars to allow that to happen; instead, they are saving that money for college since most NCAA baseball teams have only limited scholarship money, and it is rare that a player would get a "full ride" despite what some disillusioned would-be collegiate stars may boast to their peers. Here is a brief glimpse at local Legion players who have advanced to play Division I ball in recent years: (Doylestown Legion John Gyles, LaSalle; David Putman, Duke; Ryan Pater, St. Joe’s;  Nor-Gwyn HawksMike Bradstreet, Rhode Island; Matt Quinn, Maryland; Ryan Ignas, Penn State; Hatfield LegionEric Ruth, Winthrop; Kevin Christy, LaSalle; Pennridge LegionEric and Adam Kammler, LaSalle; Pat Dameron, Delaware.) To finish the list of local Division One players in just the last few seasons and to add the prominent D-2 and D-3 programs to which our local legion players have advanced would far exceed the available space for this article (such as Boyertown Bears Legion alum Shayne Houck who lit the PSAC on fire last year, batting .449 with 17HR and 77 RBI for Kutztown).

THE EXPERIENCE
If your son is playing an AAU sponsored tournament with a name like the  "Elite National Championship" but you had to pay a boat load of money for the team to be there - are they really playing for a national championship? Or are they just a team that has enough money to pay to enter the tournament with an impressive name?
It is worth noting that the American Legion programs in Spring City, Norchester, Boyertown, Pennridge, Hatfield and Nor-Gwyn have, in the last six years and beyond, advanced to Regional, State, and National Tournaments on multiple occasions, and yes... they ADVANCED - that means they had to win a lot of baseball games to earn the right to compete for these tournament titles, after all, generally that is how it works in college and the pros as well. And when they did ADVANCE, how much money did they have to pay to play in these tournaments comprised of some of the best legion teams in the state and nation... $0.00. In fact, when the Nor-Gwyn Hawks advanced to the Great Lakes Regional in Appleton, WI in the summer of 2009, (and when Pennridge Legion advanced to Mattoon, IL last summer summer) not only was it free, but American Legion baseball picked up the tab for the round trip flight, rental cars, and four nights in the hotel.,, AND all players and coaches received meal money each day. And yet some families are paying thousands to play in tournaments in which they have to pay for their own transportation and hotels, but those are the tournaments that are titles “Elite.”

So, if Legion ball in our area has so much to offer, what is pulling families into the realm of AAU tournament ball instead? A lot of it has to do with the myth that a player has to play in AAU Tournaments and showcases to "be seen." Sure, there are very talented players who have been seen by and signed by college coaches at tournaments; however, do people ever realize, "yes, but these players are good players anyway, and they would likely have gone on to college ball with or without an AAU team"? Many tournament teams have spawned when talented kids leave an established program, set up tournament teams full of good players, and then a year or two later... disappear to be replaced by another temporary team somewhere else. I fully understand the need for our kids to be on good teams that provide good baseball experiences. After all, who wouldn’t want only the best for his or her own son, but perhaps maybe if the good players would stick around for the commitment of community based teams, and the focus would be on getting good people involved to run these teams, and continue to build them, then we would not even need teams with registration fees of over $2,000+ for a season, and those who really cannot afford that would not feel so much pressure to spend it anyway.

THE ATMOSPHERE AND THE ESTABLISHMENT
Pennsylvania's nearly 400 American Legion teams ranks it tops in the country in total number of teams, and Region 2 in PA (Berks, Bucks, Montgomery, Lehigh, Northampton, and Schuylkill Counties) has been home to the PA State Champion eight times in the last ten years, including Hatfield in 2002 and Nor-Gwyn in 2005, http://www.baseball.legion.org/baseball . Along the road to that success, it is difficult to top the baseball atmosphere one would find at Bear Stadium in Boyertown on a typical summer night (www.bearstadium.com), or more locally at our own Hostelley Field at Nor-Gwyn on a night when the Hawks are in town (www.nor-gwynbaseball.org). The community involvement, the behind the scenes volunteerism, the media attention on the front page of the sports section on a daily basis, the constant phone calls and emails to and from college coaches, the affordable registration fees, and the opportunity to advance to League, Regional, State, and National play in front of numerous coaches and scouts, are what combine to make American Legion baseball such a beneficial program of which to be a part. And to the question of exposure for players well, the list (as previously referenced) is lengthy and getting longer each year.  
  
WHICH BRAND OF BASEBALL IS REALLY PREPARING YOUNG PLAYERS MOST EFFECTIVELY?
An NCAA season is a day in and day out grind of 56 nine inning games on a nearly daily basis, usually with conference games on the weekends and days of practice in between. A major league season is a 162 game grind with nine innings each day. These college and pro seasons are marathons of ups and downs, with standings, jockeying for positioning, league and non-league opponents, strong and weak opponents, home field advantage and away games. Preparation for this type of season happens in American Legion baseball. Teams are vying for postseason berths, coaches are playing non-league games to keep people fresh and give regular players a break, and players are learning to handle and adapt to the high and low moments in a rigorous, but regimented schedule of daily baseball.
AAU /Tournament ball is run entirely differently. In many cases these teams play weekend tournaments often requiring extensive travel arrangements, only to be idle most of the week, before packing up and heading to another tournament the following weekend. Without daily conditioning regimens such as pitchers running and long tossing between starts, without league play, and with the focus being on just winning these short sprints of weekend tournaments that often include multiple doubleheaders and upwards of 4-6 games in one weekend, the baseball being played in the AAU/ Tournament programs is not conducive to preparing players for the competition and the rigors of the next level. Not to mention, these teams lack the media publicity, the community involvement, and the affordability that American Legion baseball offers. After all, just because it costs more money does not mean it is a better final product. Further insights are also available at the following link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rD4GSEYDeZc


FINAL THOUGHTS
So, if your son is going to be in high school soon or already is, ask yourself if you want to be spending upwards of over $15,000 between summer and fall baseball for about three years worth of youth baseball.
Sure, tuck some money away for private instruction - our area is brimming with indoor instructional facilities, and one-on-one private lessons can absolutely make better players. But save the rest of your money to cover what a partial baseball scholarship may not, and remember, the players in our area who have been drafted and signed at the pro level, still make up only 0.44% of high school players, so be optimistic but also be realistic.
And if you are a player with high aspirations for baseball, and want to play at the next level … get better. Set up a batting tee in your basement or backyard and take fifty swings a day. Get out and long toss as much as you can while the weather is warm, and have someone hit you a hundred ground balls a week; get into the weight room; watch baseball games on TV and learn situational baseball, not just ESPN highlights. Oh, and by the way…that advice is free.

22 comments:

  1. Coach McCreary,

    NICE POST, so true!!!! A lot of parents think that their child(ren) are better than they really are. The coaches for these AAU teams are not necessarily good coaches and teachers of the game. The cost to play is a lot of money and what do you get out off it? If you are a good player and play the game the right way you will be found and get to continue to play as far as your talent will take you. Parents just let your kids be kids and have fun playing the GREAT game of baseball.

    Well said Coach Manero, well said.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Coach Manero - I think you make a solid argument for local Legion ball over travel-type baseball, and thanks for giving your opinion on what is a contentious issue. Two things to consider though before passing judgement on travel ball, is that it does serve a need in those areas that may not have a strong Legion or HS program such as North Penns's. Also, it gives an opportunity to kids who still want to play, and maybe weren't able to make the cut in those programs. That 26th player might not be ready to give up the dream, and travel gives him the opportunity to improve and play. My $0.02 - KM

    ReplyDelete
  3. I absolutely agree with you 100%. I played Legion baseball, was a college baseball All-American and drafted in the 11th round of the professional baseball draft. I have coached little league, high school and now American Legion baseball. I have noticed that many parents have "grown" to be passionate about the game. We live in a world of instant gratification and a "feel good" society. Unfortunately parents (many of whom never played the game or were not very good) steer their kids in the wrong direction. I recently lost many local players that were succesful players that opted to play 16U AAU baseball going into their senior year of high school instead of wood bat American Legion. Due to AAU age requirements in Connecticut a players age group is determined by the date of May 10th. What benefit would a soon to be senior in high school have playing 16U? Some of these players that hovered around the .300 plus batting average in high school are batting .500 or better in the early season of AAU play. Thus, the "feel good" and instant gratification concept comes into play. Suddenly little Johnnie that was a decent to mediocre high school player is "tearing it up" in AAU. Unfortunately as Coach Manero states, college baseball is NOT a weekend warrior experience. I played it back when the NCAA allowwed college baseball to play 25 plus fall GAMES as well as numerous practices. Then it was everyday winter workouts into Spring break trips to California or Arizona going into a rigourous spring season of 45 games with regional and national play after that. I was fortunate to play on a NCAA national championship team as a freshmen. Legion baseball more then enough prepared me for the college game. The ONLY time I believe AAU baseball should even be considered as an option is when a player leaves the little league diamond and is making the transistion onto the bigger diamond. This is ONLY if the players local area does NOT provide a respectful Babe Ruth, Jaycee Courant type league. As a legion coach I fear these AAU programs are advertising how certain players that are drafted played AAU. Did these parents ever consider that these kids are just that good and have raw talent? If your good enough someone from the college or professional levels will hear about you and find you. I am so exhausted to hear these kids and their parents talk about D1 visions. First of all D1 baseball does not typically offer JV baseball teams, so you better be an All State or Region high school player if you think your making the squad. College baseball is usually a non revenue sport, meaning that don't generate enough money to offer full rides like football or basketball. Granted there are some high profile, typically warm weather schools that pack em in the stands that can provide scholarships. Although for the most part its not happening. Legion baseball is getting watered down due to AAU teams stealing kids, giving them false hopes and promises. Many times they adverstise ex professional players as instructors blah, blah blah. It's a money maker and for the price parents pay they could send their kid to a good college and play even at the D3 level and still get signed very easily. This is why legion baseball has turned to allowing 19 year olds to play as well as offering mediocre junior legion teams. The days of towns having the best 18 kids committed to play 40 or 50 games in a short period of time are over. It's easier for parents to sit by their pool all week then jump in the car and go for a nice weekend excursion and watch little Johnnie go 15 for 32 with 20 RBI against lesser pitching. Then stop for an ice cream on the trip home and tell little Johnnie how god he is. The fact is you gotta be GOOD to go somewhere. If you pay me $2500 or more I can work with your kid and tell you he has the potential to do big things. Legion baseball is the best amatuer competition a kid can play hands down. Many AAU teams "advertise" tryouts but in reality those who have the money to pay will have to play.

    ReplyDelete
  4. continuing.... Why is it that almost EVERY AAU team qualifies and/or WINS some type of "National" championship? Because it's a business and propaganda. It obviously promotes AAU programs to advertise this so after one group of kids graduates through their program the next "sucker" family is waiting in line so little Johnnie gets his chance. Save your money, if your kid is good enough someone will hear about him and find him. Trust me I coached high school baseball. I also have many college coaching contacts and they all tell me they prefer legion players over AAU typically. Their reasons are as Coach Manero stated, legion players are prepared for the rigourous schedule college baseball offers. AAU will tell you anything you want to hear just like a used car salesman because they are selling a product to line their pockets with cash. Legion will offer the best PURE baseball at the highest level of amateur competition, hands down. The 19 year old rule came into effect due to AAU stealing legion players, thus hurting college recruiting. Some of these AAU teams don't even have to WIN games to get to National championships, they simply pay their way in. This is much like the hundreds of men's slow pitch softball "National" tournaments. Teams that compete in qualifier tournaments and come in 2nd place or even 3rd will get berths due to the winner already winning a berth in a previous tournament. There's no actual win or go home scenario until they actually get to these glorified numerous "National" championships. So if your goal is having your kid play the best competition then play legion. If your goal is making your kid "feel good" then play AAU. Good luck.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Thanks coach Manero. The article is true to the core. The problem with both Legion and AAU baseball is that both of them end up being diluted of talent. I am part of the coaching staff for an American Legion team, an organization/town that used to have a proud past. We had a difficult time fielding a team this summer. Even worse, several other teams barely had nine kids for some games. One team dropped their program 3/4 of the way into the season.

    The Legion vs. AAU issue reflects larger social issues. Those with money will grow their programs, while those without money will die a slow death. In the end, some of these lower income kids with legitimate talent wont be playing ANYWHERE because they can't afford to pay for AAU or the increasing costs to play even legion ball.

    If anyone out there in baseball land has any appropriate, creative ideas with this issue please respond.

    The Boys of Summer

    ReplyDelete
  6. thank you for the post and the comments. My older son is 14 and going into high school this fall. He is a decent player with good athletic skills. I don't dream of having him go to college to play anything. i want him to get the most out of high school and then see where his efforts take him from there. i found this post because he has been asked to practice with our local Legion team and asked to join a travel team coached by his former little league coach. i have to do some more research, but i think i know what i am going to recommend to him.

    thanks again.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Thanks Coach. This is fantastic input to a decision we have to make. Our son was MVP on his 7th, 8th, 9th grade teams. He also led all three teams in Batting Avg. In the last 2 years, playing American Legion ball for Perk Valley, he led the 15&U Legion team in most all offensive stats (batted .406 this past season). Now, he is being recruited to play Fall Ball w/ an AAU team - for 4 tournaments they have. Your information is great. We're thinking he may want to stay w/ Sr. Legion the next 3 years (10th, 11th, 12th grades) and set Goals for at least a D2 program (Shippensburg, West Chester??) and take it from there.. Thanks again. Your article really helped!

    ReplyDelete
  8. I do agree with some of your points and would like to see it go back to the way it was 10 years ago with community teams. I coach a 15u aau team out of souderton.The problem is that most good players opt for travel baseball because the level of play in community and school ball is very low. The speed and talent of the game drops dramatically at the school level. We have an above average travel team and I could say we would have no problem competing with any high school varsity teams and these are just 15 year olds.We always dread when the boys play school ball because of the skill level.Most of the aau travel teams are non profit and the cost for a season is about $800 which goes towards insurance and tournament fees.It is common to see scouts at the bigger tournaments looking at kids from the ages of 14 and up because they know thats where the talent is.Again I would like to see it go back to the way it was but the facts are that your top level players are in travel ball.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Coach Manero. Excellent points and I agree 100%. Very well said. I played ball in the 80's in High School, Legion, then played 4 years at West Chester. I got away from the game for a while after graduating from college due to my career path and have just started coaching again in the past few years. I have seen the same thing. I can't stand the fact that people need to shell out big dollars to get their kid to play on a "Higher Level". Quite frankly, it sickens me. When I was a kid, I wouldn't have been able to afford it. My dad only made so much money and if it came between putting a meal on the table or me wearing a fancy uniform, I know which one would've won. I'm a big proponent of American Legion Baseball. I believe the coaching and instruction plays a critical role in this solution, however.

    Years ago, almost all high school coaches (and college, for that matter) were either teachers at the school or had an education degree. They knew that being a good coach required that you knew how to teach. You were actually teaching the game. So often, in today's world, the coaches are no longer actual teachers. They are just evaluators. Some believe that if a guy was an excellent player in his day, it would result in him being an excellent coach. Not true. Excellent teachers make excellent coaches. Excellent players who are excellent teachers make outstanding coaches. I'm not saying a great former player can't be a great teacher, but if he/or she teaches the game, there lies the best combination of a coach.

    My belief is if people want Legion programs to be more attractive than the expensive alternative (as I do), they need to find a way to get more quality instruction, practices, and showcase events of their own. Parents used to turn to AAU for the instruction and the exposure (and don't forget grocery-line bragging points about how great their kid is because he plays AAU). The instruction part is now almost non-existent. People are paying for AAU only for the potential exposure. They don't practice on some of these "Elite Teams". They can't, kids come from great distances that make up these "Elite" team. If Legion can harness more quality instruction (maybe holding camps or clinics for their league) and get more exposure (showcase type events, media coverage), I believe they can eventually get back to where it once was.

    But then again, if people have the money, they will spend it for the instant gratification ("microwave success" as my old college coach once said) and for the grocery line bragging rights.

    Unfortunately, both leagues are now being diluted with players and talent. The Legion program is feeling the most pain and the cost of Legion, too, is going up. Its unfortunate looking at the Legion program today, comparing it to what it once was and to the history behind the American Legion Baseball Program.

    ReplyDelete
  10. ....Continued....
    As far as players are concerned, I believe the pitchers are the ones suffering the most. Not only are they throwing for too many teams (Legion, AAU, local adult league teams), but when they get to go to these showcase events, what happens? The scouts all go behind the plate and hold up the radar gun and what do the pitchers do? Try to throw their hardest. I would venture to say that if a kid's parents are paying over $3000 (that includes all expenses, travel, hotel, etc.) for the season just to be at these showcases, the parent won't question the kid or tell the kid at the showcase event on Saturday or Sunday "Hey, Johnny, you just threw 110 pitches for Legion on Thursday or Friday, maybe you shouldn't throw so hard today". I'd imagine the conversation would go like this "Hey, Johnny, Virginia, South Carolina, Florida, Pitt, Penn State, Red Sox, Phillies, Mets are here. This is your big chance."

    Then people wonder why so many arm injuries and Tommy John surgeries are going on. Throwing too much, with poor mechanics and might I add probably with a poor conditioning program all equates to disaster.

    As for exposure, I believe the best kind of exposure at the high school level is when your team performs well. Going deep into playoffs. AAU, I believe, is all about showcasing your individual talents. How many AAU teams bunt? Winning or losing is secondary to individual performance; it's personal stats that matter. How far you hit the ball, etc. High School and Legion programs are more about team success, in my mind. When the team succeeds, they play on bigger stages. The bigger the stage, the more the exposure.

    Just my 2 Lincolns. Bob S.

    ReplyDelete
  11. The reason kids go to AAU baseball is for coaching. Daddy ball is far to much in little league and legion and lets face it the coaching on both levels is just lacking. AAU BASEBALL ARE PAID COACHES WHO HAVE EITHER PLAYED ON THE PRO LEVEL OR d1 LEVEL IS PLAIN OUT BETTER BALL AND BETTER INSTRUCTION AND OH BY THE WAY THE AMOUNT YOU SPEND IS ALMOST THE SAME AS LITTLE LEAGUE AND LEGION.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Tell your daddy ball theory to the coaches in The Mercer County American Legion League? We charge 200.00 to play 30+ games in the summer. We are a District Tournament Team almost every year. You show me one AAU Team or showcase Team that charges that amount. Most of the coaches that coach AAU and Showcase Teams do it for the money. I have had 2 of my players play in the Majors, several drafted, several play at D 1 Schools and several others play at different College levels. Coach for the love of the game!

      Delete
    2. Son, you have no clue! Today's AAU baseball is so watered down compared to 10 years ago when you actually had to MAKE an AAU team...nowadays, if you open up your wallet many of these programs will take you and even start another team if enough people are interested. Don't get me wrong, there are still some very good AAU teams, but there are so many that were started by a daddy, hence "daddy ball" or are for profit through a baseball academy. I could go on and on about this topic, but why? most of the posters here get it...as do many college coaches. Legion prepares a player so much better for the college game.

      Delete
  12. A significant amount of those exorbitant player fees goes to pay the coaches and people who run these teams. It's a job for them. The ones around here walk away with $4,000 or more CASH (no 1099 for the IRS) for doing what I do for nothing more than expenses.

    The poster who referred to "Daddy ball" is not American Legion but a lot of so-called travel baseball. By the way, just because I didn't play baseball at a D-1 or professional level doesn't mean I don't know baseball and cannot teach the game and develop players. I know; we had one of these organizations attacking me and my program using extremely personal attacks consisting of just that line.

    That is a typical of the elitist attitude demonstrated by individuals involved with these for-profit programs. Notice I said "for profit," not "for kids." That was not an accident. For them, it's all about money. Big money.

    ReplyDelete
  13. I have coached legion ball for 20 years in Connecticut.We have seen a number of our players drafted and countless others play at the college level.If Johnny is truly a good player, college programs will find him even if he is hiding under a rock.Parents can do their kids a real favor by not falling for the phony lure of AAU ball. The only beneficiaries are the paid to names on your check and hotels during the grueling travel required to make Johnny concerned only about himself and not the team concept.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Great post Kevin!!

    I also coach American Legion baseball (Yardley Western-Lower Bucks County). I would like to add something to go along with your case. A true value that players learn through American Legion ball is the concept of "Service above Self".

    By this I mean, stepping on the practice field and/or game field and busting your hump for your fellow teammates.

    Being happier for your teammates than you are for yourself after a big victory.

    The sense of frustration of failure because you feel as if you let your teammates down, and not because you are embarrassed for yourself.

    Players are not learning these values by attending tournaments with the soul purpose of "showcasing" your abilities.

    Region 3 is currently toying with an idea to start up a fall American Legion All-star showcase. Each league will have a team made up of players from their league in the summer. We will play a series of tournaments maybe every other weekend through the months of September and October. Are hopes are that this idea will spawn into the other regions of the state as well. If you have any thoughts, you can email me at vaccaro30@hitmore.net.

    Dave Vaccaro

    ReplyDelete
  15. great idea Dave. The state needs to bring back the showcase games along with the East-West all star game. Cost for the player was "0"

    ReplyDelete
  16. Nice article, Kevin.

    The same is true in Soccer and other sports, not just Baseball. Too many people believe products are better just because they cost more. AAU does not have quality coaching, rather they entice the best players they can from a surrounding area and make an All-Star team...only if those players can afford to play it. There are several players on the local AAU team in the district I coach in who do not even make the Varsity High School team, batted .400 in summer ball and can not even hit an 70mph batting practice fastball!!! Too much stake is put in the cost of the opportunity, rather than the quality of the opportunity.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Kevin - Times have changed and recruiting methods have changed. Showcases are here to stay because many national level college teams want them and need them. There is an opportunity for Legion to participate in its normal Legion schedule AND participate in these College Showcases. The American Legion organization needs to adopt more flexible policies to allow this to happen. My son's Legion team did it last Fall and it was an extraordinary success, but it had to be done in the Fall instead of the prime recruiting time of the Summer. My youngest son loves Legion and has turned down opps to play "travel baseball". His older brothers played travel and Legion, and they liked Legion more for lots of reasons. Rather than discussing why Legion is better than travel baseball or whatever, let's figure out a way to play Legion and become a better option (through Showcases) for young aspiring college recruits. Thanks.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Excellent arguments on both sides. I will throw in my two cents as a coach who played college baseball and coached both travel and legion baseball in the Mid West. First things first, I see a lot of posts on here that dad coaches, legion coaches, and travel coaches aren't very good or something along those lines. The people deciding on who is a good coach or a bad coach should probably be decided by the parents and players of that particular coach. As for being paid why shouldn't they be? Their are legion coaches here that are paid 10,000 per summer and travel coaches that do it for free and vice versa. I retired from coaching to watch and enjoy my sons high school career and this is what I have witnessed watching from the stands. We are in a small town and my son is fortunate enough to throw mid to upper 80's as a 6'2 senior lefty or so we thought. During his sophomore year he was good and played legion only in the summer with little or no looks and we were ok with that do to his age. We didn't play football the fall of his junior year so we decided to play on a fall travel team that played local colleges in the area and got a few looks. Same thing again in his junior year except the coaches from the schools we played in the fall started to show up at legion games. We played fall travel again against 12 different colleges and happy to say he received an offer from 10 of the 12 with little to no help from the legion program, not knocking the legion program but know one was watching so travel helped us tremendously. After listening to the college coaches explain to my son that they didn't even know who he was because they are out watching the big showcase or travel events not because it is necessarily better but because they get to see more teams and players in one weekend than they did in a whole year of legion ball. They explained that their budgets are tight so they are going to the 24 or 32 team tournaments rather than weekly league games. I played and love legion baseball but the lure is no longer there, especially in small town USA. My thought is that if legion coaches want to keep their athletes in house than start playing in the "big tournaments" or showcase events or start playing the AAU teams to show your player that legion is a viable option. Legion baseball has not evolved here in the Midwest and losing players and teams every day. Perception is everything and legion baseball needs to change with the time or it will die a slow death in the Midwest.

    ReplyDelete
  19. There is absolutely no comparison here . Any accredited national travel program will create more exposure for any high school baseball player with aspirations to play collegiately....hands down !!!! No Legion baseball program will even come close . If you looking for money to be a reason not to play travel ( I pay only $175 more a season for my son to play on of the best travel programs in the country ) then check this out ... I saved 140 k in college tuition expenses by getting him in front of the right people. Good travel ball programs are not worried about winning championships or playoffs . No local politics are involved . They are just looking to put the right players in front of the right baseball programs ... My sons positive experiences in travel ball far out way any with this legion program or the affiliated high school program. My son has received a significant financial scholarship offer only due to his travel program coaches and administrators Forget the old American Legion cronies who say Travel Ball is all about me and not about team . I have witnessed my son developing lasting friendships with teammates and coaches thru the national program he plays for . The talent poll is 10 x's better , the coaching is ten x's better , and the kids play hard . you will never see a kid jogging and walking to a position on his national program. Never see any of them disrespecting the uniform...wearing a hat wrong ...walking up to a game with flip flops on .. etc... I am 100% convinced if I left my son's college career in the hands of the legion or high school program there's in no way he would be going to a division one school on a baseball scholarship .....

    ReplyDelete
  20. After playing travel ball, we decided to give Legion ball a try. We like a lot of aspects about Legion, but there are some negatives. Our Legion team costs roughly the same as our local travel team, but the biggest difference is roster size. Legion carries 17 players as opposed to 12-13 for travel ball. Definitely seeing issues for playing time for a lot of the kids.

    If cost and coaching are equal, better to go with the team that provides more field time.

    ReplyDelete