20318-spt-roseburgcoaches

With the exception of practices and scrimmages, Champion Car Wash Field at Bill Gray Legion Stadium will remain largely empty for the next few weeks because of coronavirus concerns.

The 2020 American Legion baseball season in Oregon was canceled Tuesday, but that doesn’t mean there won’t be summer baseball in Roseburg this year.

Roseburg Dr. Stewart’s coach Jeremiah Robbins said he was disappointed that the Legion “backed out on its loyal members,” but is determined to find a way to give local players a chance to see the field in 2020.

“We’re going to continue forward and we’re going to find a way to play this summer,” said Robbins. “Obviously it won’t be under the Legion umbrella, which is fine. I don’t really care. Our kids need to play baseball and we’re going to find a way. As things start to open up, we’re going to get a team together and we’re going to go play some baseball.”

The American Legion National Organization announced in a memo sent to state commissions on May 10 that it would shut down all sponsorship and involvement in baseball for the 2020 season.

Oregon American Legion baseball chairman Mike Sowles said the memo was the final nail in the coffin for a Legion baseball season. “We were pushing for a shortened season,” said Sowles, but added “our hands are tied.”

Legion baseball teams in Oregon will lose the organizational aspects that come with the support of the national organization, but they won’t lose the chance of playing this summer. Teams can strike out on their own for an independent season as long as health restrictions are lifted.

In order to hold an independent season, teams would be responsible for their own insurance, rules and oversight.

Robbins says teams in Dr. Stewart’s league, Area 4, and around the state have expressed interest in playing an independent schedule and he’s even been in touch with teams from northern California. Coaches and team organizers are meeting on a conference call this week to further consider their options.

“A lot dictates on when the restrictions get lifted, when we can start practicing and that piece,” Robbins said. “Obviously it’s going to look a little bit different right now, especially early. Hopefully we’ll be playing games in July or near July.”

Dr. Stewart’s was scheduled to host the AAA American Legion Oregon State Tournament this summer, but that has been canceled along with the season. Sowles says they will try to have the tournament at Champion Car Wash Field in Roseburg in 2021.

Further details on any upcoming summer baseball season could be known later this week if public health restrictions are eased by the state of Oregon.

Joey Keeran is the sports director for KSKR The Score.

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