Post 87 gets 86ed
In one swift ruling from the National American Legion baseball office in Indianapolis on Sunday morning, High Point Post 87 saw its dreams of a state championship die.
A Saturday night protest surrounding Post 87 catcher Cesar Trejo was heard Sunday and resulted in Post 87 being forced to forfeit American Legion state tournament victories over Wayne County on Friday and Shelby on Saturday.
This ruling eliminated the Post 87 HiToms from the tournament at Holt-Moffitt Field and created a massive change in the state tourney brackets.
“We feel there was a tremendous amount of hypocrisy in this decision,” Post 87 HIToms president Greg Suire said Sunday evening. “We did not do anything to gain an unfair advantage on the field and we feel we followed all the rules as we understood them. We’re very disappointed for our season to end in this way.”
The announcement came a few hours before Shelby was set to play Wilmington in a 12:30 p.m. elimination game.
Shelby instead played Wayne County Sunday night after Wilmington faced Davidson County in an afternoon elimination game.
The Gaston Braves, undefeated in state tournament play, got a day off on Sunday before returning to action on Monday.
Trejo bagged three hits as Post 87 crushed Shelby 12-5 on Saturday afternoon. That snapped Shelby’s Area IV-record 34-game winning streak — for the time being.
After that game, Shelby team officials learned that Trejo had taken part in an UnderArmour baseball workout earlier in July in Peachtree, Ga.
Shelby protested with N.C. Legion officials late Saturday night. That protest was denied, so Shelby appealed to the National Legion office. The National office deemed that Trejo violated American Legion dual participation rules. Hence, Trejo was considered ineligible and Post 87 was required to forfeit both of its state tournament wins. That ended the HiToms’ season. Post 87 defeated Wayne County 11-8 on the field on Friday.
Trejo attended the UnderArmour workout July 11 and 12. He did not play in a game or join a team, but used the appearance to work out before college scouts.
The UnderArmour event in July was sanctioned by the Baseball Factory, an organization that has partnered with American Legion baseball since at least 2009.
“The national guidelines and the national tournament guidelines are two different sets of rules,” Suire explained. “Apparently, Trejo’s appearance at the workout was deemed to violate one set of rules but not the other. The American Legion gets $30,000 from the Baseball Factory and shares info with this group, yet a player can appear at one of its events and later be ruled ineligible.”
Suire appealed the national office’s ruling on Sunday, but that appeal was denied. Suire, who said he was still weighing legal and other options, scheduled a press conference at Holt-Moffit Stadium for later Sunday night.
“We heard about that when we got back to the hotel (following Saturday’s game),” Shelby coach and athletic Mike Grayson said of hearing about Trejo’s participation in the UnderArmour event. “They make laws and rules to go by,” Grayson added. “If you don’t follow the rules, you have to pay the penalty. I ask for my kids to fight for me so I’ve got to fight for my kids.”
So, Shelby carried a 35-game winning streak into Sunday night’s game against Wayne County.
“Our ruling was to leave High Point in the tournament but make the player in question ineligible,” N.C. Area IV commissioner Rocky Bennett said. “The national office over-ruled us after Shelby made an appeal to their office.”
That left Post 87 out of the tournament.
Post 87 coach Rob Shore and the team arrived at Holt-Moffitt Field on Sunday evening. “We’re going there to stand tall and show everyone that we did nothing wrong and have no reason to hide,” Shore said.
“This is a black eye for American Legion baseball,” Suire said. “It’s disappointing for the kids on the team to have such a successful season end in such a way.”