"In this city on July 17, 1925, by action of the South Dakota Department of The American Legion, the nationwide organization of Legion Junior Baseball was first proposed as a program of service to the youth of America." Those words are inscribed on a marble monument in the community of Milbank, South Dakota, as a
reminder of how this cherished Americanism program began. The program's purpose is explained best by a portion of that inscription: "A program of service to the youth of America." Since its beginning more than 10 million young people have played American Legion Baseball.
American Legion Baseball became a national program by convention action in 1925, and the first national tournament was held in 1926. Only 16 states were represented in this year. In 1928, Mr. Dan Sowers, the director of the National Americanism Commission, spoke to the Executive Council of Baseball in Chicago, which agreed to underwrite the national program up to $50,000. With the exception of two years, Major League Baseball has supported American Legion Baseball annually with a financial contribution.
During the 1929 season, every state entered teams into competition. The National Broadcasting Company originated their nationwide broadcast of the finals. Nineteen thirty-one marked the first appearance in championship play of a player who was later to become a big-league great. Kirby Higbe, hurled the complete game for Columbia, South Carolina, and lost the final game in the 14th inning, 1-0. Ten years later, he was the National League's top pitcher.
Though the program had some restrictions during World War II, American Legion Baseball continued its service to our nation's young men. The post war years saw continued growth, establishing American Legion Baseball as a national institution as the public realized the importance of this type of physical activity for boys of all age groups.
In 1949, the first American Legion Player of the Year was selected with the cooperation of Robert Quinn, director of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown, NY. The 1960s saw the program grow under the leadership of George W. Rulon, program coordinator for American Legion Baseball, who held that post from 1961 to 1987. Upon his retirement, the American Legion Player of the Year Award was renamed the George W. Rulon Player of the Year.
The 1970s saw three more national awards established by the National Americanism Commission. The Dr. Irvin L. (Click) Cowger RBI award; Rawlings Big Stick Award, and the Bob Feller pitching awards were established based on players' statistics in Regional and World Series Tournaments.
In 1982, the National Americanism Commission adopted the eight-site, eight-team, double elimination Regional Tournament format. Sixty-four of the best teams in the country begin National competition at the Regional's.
In 1998, The American Legion established a national baseball scholarship. A scholarship is awarded to each participating Department. A total of at least $22,000 is awarded annually to outstanding American Legion Baseball players based upon leadership, character, scholarship and financial need.
More than 90,000 players, ages 15 to 19, participated last year. Local American Legion posts also support and sponsor some 2,500 youth teams that are registered with Little League, Babe Ruth, Pony and Dixie, as well as many other youth sports teams such as soccer, bowling, hockey, etc.
Since 1925 over 10 million young people have played American Legion Baseball.
Fifty-five percent of Major League Baseball players played American Legion Baseball as teenagers.
Nearly 75 percent of all college players played American Legion Baseball as teenagers.
Sixty Seven American Legion Baseball graduates have been inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York.
Since 1926, Major League Baseball has honored The American Legion World Series Champions. The Commissioner's Office annually presents a plaque to The American Legion champions on the field at The Major League World Series. The 2015 National Champions from South Carolina attended the World Series in Kansas City and received the Commissioner's Award.
This season marks the 91st anniversary of American Legion Baseball, which continues to be "an investment in America's youth." The program's history proves that America's youth receive on the baseball diamond a thorough understanding of the value of sportsmanship, leadership and individual character building.
THE AMERICAN LEGION Is a Congressionally Chartered, private nonprofit veteran's organization. The name and emblem are protected under section 48 of title 36, the United States Code: The use of the name or emblem is prohibited unless written permission is secured from the National Adjutant whose office is located at the National Headquarters. Post officers as well as department officers are authorized to use the name and emblem on letterhead, programs, posters, etc., however, reproduction of the name or emblem on merchandise for resale is prohibited by law unless written permission is given by the national adjutant of the American Legion.
BASE SCHOOL - A public or private high school that will serve as the starting point to recruit additional players, if eligible. When a player's parent's domicile is located within a base school boundary, that base school is considered the nearest team.
CERTIFIED BIRTH RECORD - A document issued by the State Bureau of Vital Statistics, or other authorized government office which list the player's date and place of birth. This document usually has a raised state seal, and there is usually a fee to obtain a copy.
Clarification: A state-issued ID or state driver's license that is in compliance with the Federal +Real ID law is acceptable. A U.S. passport (or any U. S. government-issued documentation) qualifies as an acceptable record of birth. Notarized birth certificates or hospital certificates are not acceptable proof of age for American Legion Baseball.
CERTIFICATION - A written document or act validating what has or has not been done. Certifying a department champion or runner-up does not qualify a team for national competition if an ineligible player is discovered. When certifying the department champion or runner-up, the authorized department official is attesting to the fact that a department It tournament was held in accordance with national and department baseball rules. An Authorized Baseball official, in certifying a team entry form, is attesting to the fact that National Form #1 was registered with the chairman on or before the date required by the department rules. This does not guarantee the team is eligible for league or tournament play.
COMBINED TOTAL ENROLLMENT - The entire enrollment, on March 31 of the current year of all Students in the 10th, 11th and 12th grades of those schools bypassed (if applicable) and those schools from which players are recruited for one team. This shall include all male, female, special education, physically challenged, and bilingual students enrolled on March 31. Partial enrollments shall not be used in American Legion Baseball.
COMMITTEE - Appointed or elected individuals by the Department to administer the Department Baseball Program.
DEPARTMENT - The American Legion is a nonprofit veteran's organization with 55 Departments or subdivisions, (one in each state, plus Puerto Rico, France, Panama Canal, Italy, Mexico, the Philippines and the District of Columbia). Each Department is an independently operated subdivision of The American Legion, with its own Constitution and Bylaws.
DEPARTMENT BASEBALL OFFICIAL - A volunteer appointed or elected as a Chairman to oversee and supervise the department baseball program within a given Department.
DEPARTMENT CLOSING DATE: - A specific date by which a team must have their online roster and other documentation registered with the proper department baseball official.
The date is determined by the department baseball committee and published in the department rule book. This date must be set prior to any league game. Insurance coverage is only afforded to those players listed on the roster once regular season games begin.
DISTRICT or DIVISION - A subdivision of the department baseball program. Several Districts or Divisions make up the department baseball program.
DISTRICT BASEBALL CHAIRMAN - An individual appointed or elected to oversee and supervise the district baseball program, under the general rules and regulations of the Committee. District Chairman may prescribe rules if approved by the Committee.
FARM TEAM - A Class A team playing under a Class AA Team. It has restrictions of 5,000 enrollment from schools it is drawing from.
LEGAL PERMANENT RESIDENCE - A player's legal residence shall be the same residence of his parent's or permanent court appointed guardians' domicile. This definition means living in a particular locality with intent to make it a fixed and permanent home. A Post Office box does not qualify as a domicile.
NATIONAL COMPETITION - Competition above the Department level and under the supervision of The American Legion National Americanism Commission.
NOTARIZED DOCUMENTS - Adoption papers, divorce or legal separation papers, if notarized, are acceptable documents for determining a player's residence as of March 31 or the current year.
PERMANENT COURT APPOINTED GUARDIAN - An individual appointed by a Court of Law, having jurisdiction over such matters, who shall have the care and management of a minor, due to the loss of or incapacity of the natural parents and until attainment of full age. Temporary Guardianships are not acceptable in American Legion Baseball, unless the courts have determined the parents incapable of supervision and care of the minor.
PRIVATE SCHOOL - A religious, military, preparatory high school, where tuition is paid for secondary education PUBLIC SCHOOL - A tax supported institution for secondary education.
PUBLIC HIGH SCHOOL BOUNDARY - A line or division of two or more neighboring public high schools established by school boards having authority to do so or established by the Committee.
SPONSORSHIP - The American Legion Post is always recognized as the primary and exclusive sponsor, regardless of financial support, of the team. A support group, company, private association or corporation is recognized as a financial supporter for a local American Legion Team. Those teams that do not have a Post sponsorship shall come under the sponsorship of the Department or Baseball Committee having jurisdiction over team Discipline. An outside Supporter or cosponsor has no legal jurisdiction over a team. The American Legion Post or Baseball Committee that sponsors any team retains the exclusive legal sponsorship of the team. REGISTERED TEAM - Any team that has properly filed the necessary documents, fee and purchased the proper liability and medical insurance as required by the national and department Rules.
TECHNICAL OR VOCATIONAL SCHOOL - A tax supported institution for secondary education.
TRANSFER - A written document that provides a means of legally transferring a player from one team to another within a Department. Transfers are valid from January 1 thru December 31 of the current season, as long as the player does not have a change of address or school. Any change in residency or a change in schools null and voids the Transfer and will require the player to qualify in accordance with the existing rules. Transfers in which a player must cross a State boundary, must comply with Department Rules and Regulations first and then have approval of Department Officials. - Explanation: Players are obligate to play within their Department and comply with Departments Rules and Regulations. If a Department has a restriction of transfers, the Department transfer rule shall have precedence over the National waiver rule. Therefore a transfer to the next nearest team shall mean within a Department (State) boundary and only at the convenience of the Department and with both Department Officials in agreement shall a player be permitted to be transferred across a State boundary.