The American Legion Baseball season in South Dakota stopped just as suddenly as it almost started.
Less than 24 hours after the South Dakota Athletic Commission and the South Dakota American Legion Executive Committee approved a 2020 South Dakota Legion Baseball season, the National American Legion pulled the plug on Sunday on there being a season not just in South Dakota, but throughout the nation. This was done in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
South Dakota American Legion Commander Fred Nelson said in an official statement that he felt bad about the situation.
“I feel bad for the players and the coaches that were looking forward to the American Legion baseball season,” Nelson said. “South Dakota American Legion Baseball took a quick turn from yesterday’s announcement. National has elected to suspend the remaining 25 states from playing American Legion baseball, thus cancelling the South Dakota 2020 season.”
Pierre Post 8 coach Brian White told the Capital Journal on Monday that the decision did not come as a surprise.
“We kinda expected that to happen,” White said. “We’ve been preparing for something like that for the past month.”
Despite the decision, Legion baseball teams around the state, including both Rapid City teams, both Sioux Falls teams and Pierre Post 8, are preparing for a 2020 summer baseball season. It just won’t be sanctioned by the American Legion.
“We’re planning on playing baseball this season,” White said. “It’ll be sort of like a club type of situation similarly to high school baseball where we all independently govern ourselves. The teams involved would be all the Class AA teams in the state.”
Baseball has been played on the amateur ranks in South Dakota. Teams from Yankton, Mount Vernon and Lesterville have started playing games, with social distancing put in place. The Mount Vernon team has Pierre’s own Bradley Dean on the roster. Dean went 5-5 in a victory over Yankton on Sunday. Dean’s Mount Vernon team is 2-0 on the season.
Coaches of the South Dakota American Legion baseball teams will have a meeting via Zoom on Wednesday to formulate a plan going forward on how they will approach having baseball this summer.