Should things progress as outlined by Gov. Laura Kelly in her plan to reopen the state as Kansas deals with the COVID-19 pandemic, American Legion baseball will be on the diamond.
“We are going to try, as of right now we hoping,” said Mark George, coach of the junior legion Knights.
Practice is set to being May 18, with first games on the schedule June 2. All of the season, at this point, is contingent on Kelly’s plan — along with the plans of the local board of health and Newton Rec.
We have boundaries we need to respoect and honor,” said Mark George, coach of the junior legion Knights. “The governor has plan for how the state of Kansas is going to reopen. Harvey County has plan in regards to how they will reopen and Newton parks and Rec has a plan. We are trying to fall in the hierarchy in terms of playing.”
But getting back on the diamond is important — more so for Newton than many other teams.
The Newton baseball community, and especially the American Legion teams, are mourning the loss of organizer Roger GIllispie. Gillispie ran the American Legion program for decades, then died of cancer this year.
“It is important from the sense of how much roger has meant to baseball in general,” George said. “We have not allowed our chance to say goodbye to Roger the way we would want to. We have not been able to honor roger and his accomplishments. Being able to play this year is really important to respect and honor Roger.”
There are myriad of bridges to cross — from equipment handling to social distancing guidelines — as the teams prepare for the first practices slated for May 18.
And there is each step in Kelly’s phase-in program to consider along the path to the first games in mid-June.
Further delays to the season could result in the cancellation of both zone and state tournaments. George is taking a “wait and see” attitude for now, while still preparing for the future of baseball in Newton.
“If we are not able to play, based on what the Gov. says or Harvey County chooses to do, it is what it is and we will do what we do,” George said. “We need to be diligent in our procedures that we have no more than 90 people (in the stands after June 1) and that we observe social distancing. ... There is space out there and people should be able to do that.”
The schedule, as it stands, shows six home dates for the Junior Knights, including a two-day round-robin tournament. The Senior Knights will host four home dates, all double headers.
Weather permitting, Legion baseball will be at Klein-Scott Field June 3, 9, 10, 16, 24, 25 and 30 and July 8 for regular-season play. The Senior Legion zone tournament is scheduled for July 17-25.
Opponents for the Junior Knights this year will include Andover, Buhler, Emporia, Hesston, Hutchinson, McPherson and Salina. The Senior Knights will take on Andover, Buhler, Hutchinson, Ottawa and Salina.
The Senior Legion state tournament, which has not yet had a location announced, is slated for July 28 through Aug. 2.
The only concern we had was the July 11th and 12th. We schedule a Round Robin tournament but you had a conflict with one of those dates. You were going to see if you could work something out. Also we are having a Legion Alumni game during the afternoon Saturday June 6. Not sure on times just yet.
Junior Legion Schedule
June 2 @ Scrimmage: 6:30-8 p.m.
June 4 @ Scrimmage: 6:30-8 p.m.
June 9 vs. Hutch: 6/8 p.m., Adrian/Andy
June 11 @ Emporia: 6/8 p.m.
June 16 vs. Andover: 6/8 p.m., Adrian/Andy
June 18 @ McPherson: 6/8 p.m.
June 23 @ Hutch: 6/8 p.m.
June 25 vs. Hesston: 6/8 p.m., Adrian/Andy
June 30 vs. Salina: 6/8 p.m., Adrian/Andy
July 7 @ Buhler: 6/8 p.m.
July 9 @ Salina: 6/8 p.m.
July 11-12 Newton Round Robin, Adrian/Andy/Tony
Senior Legion Schedule
June 2 @ Scrimmage: 6:30-8 p.m.
June 3 vs. Buhler: 6/8 p.m., Adrian/Tony
June 4 @ Scrimmage, 6:30-8:00
June 5-6: Alumni and Junior Senior Scrimmage
June 10 vs. Hutch: 6/8 p.m. Adrian/Tony
June 12-14 @ Buhler Nationals Tournament
June 17 @ Hutch, 6/8 p.m.
June 19-21 @ Andover Tournament
June 24 vs. Ottawa: 6/8 p.m., Adrian/Tony
June 26-28 @ Hutch Wood Bat Classic
July 1 @ Ottawa: 6/8 p.m.
July 8 vs. Salina: 6/8 p.m., Adrian/Tony
July 11@ Salina: 6/8 p.m.
July 14 @ Emporia: 6/8 p.m.
Zone Tournament: July 17-25, Adrian/Tony/Andy
State Tournament: July 28-Aug. 2