For the last 29 years Mountaineer fans have seen Morgantown Post 2 American Legion baseball being played at Hawley Field. Many local WVU players have participated, but that will come to an end because of a new American Legion policy.
Starting with the 2015 season, the organization will no longer allow collegiate players. The current rule states that players who turned 19 in the same calendar year can return to American Legion in the summer. Next season, players who are a year removed from high school baseball will not be eligible to play.
This rule applies to only a select few, as most college players are looking for the exposure that is provided all over the country in the collegiate baseball summer leagues.
For example, WVU has had just two players play for the local legion team since 2008. Andrew Saab played in 2008 following his freshman year at WVU and current Morgantown Post 2 manager Tyler Barnette played in 2009 following his freshman season.
Some of the top summer leagues include Team USA, Cape Cod Baseball League, Northwoods League and Alaska Baseball League, where scouts line the backstops, radar guns in hand.
Not only is the lack of college talent hurting the American Legion system, the organization also has lost top high school players to the high-profile travel teams that participate in national events.
Travel teams have improved the skills of top prospects because they often play elite competition.
For example, the Huntington Hounds take most of West Virginia’s talent and will participate in tournaments in Ohio, Georgia and Indianapolis this season.
The current 18U Hounds team features seven Division I signees and the program has featured at least two draft picks in the last four MLB drafts.
In the current state of college athletics, this is just another example of the constant shift in the landscape.
Editor's Note: It has been brought to our attention that just in the last few weeks that American Legion has rescinded the rule and college players will be able to continue to play.