American Legion Baseball
American Legion post 45 seeks support from District 1
By Samuel Robinson
LANDRUM—On Monday April 8 members of the American Legion post 45 approached the Landrum Board of Trustees meeting seeking support from the board and District 1. American Legion post 45 was founded in 1945 in Inman, SC and focuses on services for veterans and youth programs in the community.
Sr. Vice Commander and Finance Officer Charlie Tapp along with post 45’s Baseball coach, Steve Skinner, spoke to the board.
“The American Legion was founded in 1919 right after World War I to assist those coming home from the war. We strongly support the JROTC at both Landrum and Chapman High Schools” Tapp said. Before continuing, Tapp motioned to the front three rows of the Landrum High School auditorium, filled with men and women who are retired veterans serving as volunteers in post 45. “These men and women here are all a part of post 45 and support what we do in the community. We will be here next week for their awards day as well (referencing Landrum JROTC Awards Celebration).”
“Post 45 usually hands out about 6 scholarships through American Legion Baseball for boys and girls. We also pay to send 6 boys to Boys-state every year to teach them about the state and city government and being involved” Tapp said.
Tapp approached the main issue at hand, “My issue is that District 1 has a lack of participation in American Legion Baseball. We are no longer seeing the number of boys we need to play in the American Legion League. We have heard rumors that the boys have been urged against participating in the American Legion League during the summer in favor of other summer programs.”
Tapp and post 45 believe that the District 1 baseball coaches are encouraging their athletes to participate in expensive travel ball or all-star leagues during the summer months instead of the American Legion League. Tapp pointed out that many of those other programs can cost several hundred or even thousands of dollars to participate and travel while the American Legion covers the full expensive of furnishing its players and allowing free participation.
American Legion Baseball focuses on allowing young boys to participate in the program for a total of 5 years, 4 years during High School and then an additional year of what would be their first year of college. This program is aimed at helping young men develop their skills and make a serious attempt at playing at the collegiate level.
At the moment, Landrum and Chapman High Schools are not seeing enough representation in the post 45 team. Due to zoning and guidelines set by the national association, post 45 is restricted on which schools and areas it can gather students from based on population. Currently post 45 draws players from Landrum, Chapman, Byrnes, and Boiling Springs. The fear that Mr. Tapp and the rest of post 45 has is that the lack of involvement from District 1 may cause post 45 to drop both Landrum and Chapman in favor of schools in Greer.
“Our fear is that if this happens, American Legion Baseball as it is known today will go away. Due to this conflict and lack of support form District 1 we will have to look outside of D1 for students to participate in American Legion Baseball. Most of our boys are now coming from Boiling Springs” Tapp said.
Post 45 coach, Mr. Skinner gave a bit of history on the program, “This program was started back in 1955. It was started for Chapman and Landrum, for the city of Inman and the surrounding area. We started a junior team 6 years ago for boys to play if they did not make their varsity team that was very successful for a number of years but we have seen the numbers for that team go down as well.”
This is an important year for post 45 and their American Legion Baseball team because they will be hosting the American Legion Baseball State Championship. “We will be hosting the State Championship for American Legion Baseball this year. American legion has always encouraged boys to play in other sports and leagues and has always been about supporting the boys.”
“We are at a point that we are asking for support from the board and school to encourage boys to come and play or else we are at serious risk of losing this program in District 1” Tapp said. “I am asking for us to work together (Post 45) with board members and with Dr. Garner, to help us come up with a solution to help us support these boys and this program.”
In addition to seeking support, Tapp also requested that the board remove a sign from their fence that advertises American Legion post 250 because that is a Tryon based program and is not eligible to compete in the South Carolina division of American Legion Baseball.