MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — High school baseball sectional playoffs were originally scheduled to begin Monday. On the same day however, the summer baseball season in West Virginia was effectively wiped out.
The 2020 American Legion baseball season has been canceled for all states that were still holding out hope of scheduling a shortened regular season. On April 7, The Americanism Commission canceled World Series and regional competitions. Individual states could have still tried to play a regular season.
However, The American Legion National Organization circulated a memo Sunday to all state organizations saying they would no longer be affiliated with any type of play this season. If teams wanted to proceed on their own, they would do so outside of the Legion baseball umbrella.
Tyler Barnette, manager of defending state champion Morgantown Post 2, says his team is still looking into options of playing. But he acknowledges there are challenges.
“We don’t have ten teams within a ten-mile radius that we can play,” Barnette said. “We are going to have to travel. What does that travel do? It ups the liability. We have to weigh our options.”
West Virginia coaches will still meet on a previously scheduled conference call Saturday to discuss any potential playing options.
Without the involvement of the national organization, teams are on their own to provide insurance. That can be an expensive proposition.
“The parents’ insurance covers, but then what the parents insurance doesn’t cover, the legion picks up,” said WV Legion assistant commissioner and Elkins Post 29 manager Chris George. “Legion has a wonderful policy because it is based on every team in every state in the country. Therefore, the rates are low.
“It doesn’t cover viral illnesses or diseases. So if someone happens do get (COVID-19), we are liable.”
“We want to play,” Barnette said. “These kids need to play. But we have to weigh the liability side of it. A lot of this risk falls on virus protection. Insurance companies don’t offer virus protection. They’ll offer injury protection but the virus is an outlier.”
West Virginia was one of nineteen states that had not yet canceled competition prior to Monday.
“If someone wants to play baseball outside of the Legion banner, outside of everything they have to do so with their own risk,” George said. “And they have to be allowed to do so by their state.”
Looking ahead to 2021, George is hopeful that players in their final season of Legion eligibility this summer could possibly regain that season a year from now.
“Graduating high school seniors that lost their year of eligibility for high school and Legion, that have a birthday in October, November, December and will turn nineteen later this year, they wouldn’t be eligible to play next year,” George said. “I am hoping for the graduating seniors, they can get their year back next summer. They lost it and it wasn’t their fault.”