LETTER TO THE EDITOR: What happened to American Legion Baseball in Stanly County?
Published 4:27 pm Friday, June 25, 2021
My name is Tony E. Morris and I was athletic officer for American Legion Baseball for Post 76 in Albemarle for five years and Area III Commissioner for five years.
I understand that Stanly County will not field an American Legion baseball team this year due to not having enough players to field a team due to most players who are eligible are playing travel ball.
This is a sad situation as Stanly County has a deep history in American Legion Baseball.
In 1940 a group of young men coached by Porter Shepherd beat San Diego, California 9 to 8 to win the American Legion Little World Series.
When the Albemarle team won the regionals in Gastonia, they were told they could not play the World Series in Albemarle because they didn’t have a field.
Dr. Shaver and Ren Lefler spoke up and said they would have a ballpark, so the Albemarle community pulled together and a ballpark was built in seven days.
The community and leaders banded together to make sure the Little World Series was held in Albemarle.
In the final game a crowd of 12,500 showed up to cheer for the Albemarle baseball team, and to this day it is a record for most attendance at an amateur baseball game.
Stanly County didn’t have American Legion Baseball from 1962 until 1985.
A group of citizens were at the Lowder Sports Center ran by Tom Maiden and someone asked why don’t we have American Legion Baseball anymore.
The wheels started turning and with the leadership of Tootie Snuggs and Don Montgomery and a community effort American Legion Baseball was brought back to Stanly County.
A committee was formed and $24,000 was raised to support the program.
Through the years under the leadership of Tom Maiden and his committee composed of Max Morgan, Doody Lefler, Gary Dick, David Talnert, Larry Fast, Tony Morris, Jerry Smith, Lindel Morton, Charlie Lowder, Legion Baseball continued.
Thanks to the Bowers Family and Post 76 for allowing Stanly County to use Walter B Hill Post 76.
The team was furnished uniforms, insurance, meal money and transportation at no cost to the parents.
They were exposed to some of the best baseball in the State of North Carolina. Seventy-five percent of Major League players played Legion Baseball, including Kyle and Corey Seager from Kannapolis, Madison Bumgarner from Lenoir, Matt Harvey, our own Russell Brewer and Bradley Holt.
If a kid is good he is going to be found by a college or a pro scout. Every team official is in contact with colleges and pro scouts.
In my years as commissioner if I saw a kid that deserved recognition I would do my best to get him exposed to colleges and professionals.
Come on, Stanly County coaches and parents, it is up to you whether American Legion Baseball survives or not.
Tony E. Morris