Post 87 cries foul
UPDATE: The national Legion office has reopened Post 87's appeal. Posts 87 and 82 will have 24 hours to submit their statements. (Post 82 is Shelby, where the American Legion World Series is permently held.)
This puts the N.C. Legion in a difficult position after it ignored Post 87's request to halt the tournament.
Check back soon for updates.
The Post 87 HiToms were ruled ineligible for the rest of the American Legion state tournament championship, but that won’t stop them.
In the two days since the ruling, the HiToms have protested the decision and now Monday asked to halt the tournament, which is wrapping up today in Lexington, and restart it from when the team was disqualified.
“It’s gone beyond frustrating and into hypocrisy,” HiToms president Greg Suire said. “And that’s not what American Legion’s about – it’s about integrity. They eliminated us on a technicality they created.”
At the heart of the controversy is Cesar Trejo’s participation in a Baseball Factory tryout July 11-12 in Peachtree City, Georgia. After Post 87 defeated Shelby 12-5 on Saturday, Shelby protested to the North Carolina Legion officials and then protested to national Legion officials.
The latter ruled that Post 87 was disqualified because of the dual participation rule, which prohibits players from playing non-Legion-sanctioned events during the tournament. The 2014 Tournament Rules and Policies grants two exceptions: USA Baseball and Baseball Factory.
Suire provided The High Point Enterprise two letters from Michael D. Buss, the American Legion Baseball program director, establishing a relationship between the organizations and in which coaches were encouraged to send their players to Baseball Factory events.
“If Legion didn’t want any players to attend these events, then it should’ve sent out an email saying that,” Suire said. “But it didn’t. And now to penalize the kids of High Point for that is a stick in the heart.”
Suire said that Trejo told coach Rob Shore beforehand he was attending the event and that, as far as the HiToms understood the rule and the relationship, he was fine to do so. Suire added he’s received a number of letters in support from Legion Posts across the state.
The HiToms team did return to Holt-Hoffitt Field on Sunday to watch the games, and on Monday Suire sent a letter to Robert Figulski, the state baseball committee chairman, asking that the tournament be halted to sort out the conflict between all those involved and, hopefully, restart the tournament from when the team was eliminated.
“I’m galvanized by it,” Suire said when asked if the experience had soured him, “because I believe in it. I want to work to change it. We ask these players not to quit, and so I want to show them we’re not going to quit either. It’s the right thing.”