The ping of the bat meeting a baseball will be muffled this summer as Devils Lake will not field an American Legion baseball team.
Citing low numbers, league officials said the decision was an easy one to make and indicated they will try to add some players from the local Babe Ruth program to complete the roster and play a Senior Babe Ruth schedule.
"We were hoping to get about 14 or so to sign up for Legion baseball," said Tim Greene, an official with the Lake Region Area baseball boosters, which oversees the local Legion program. "We started practice with 12 players ... and then three of those players quit."
That forced Greene to contact state Legion officials and inform them that Devils Lake would be pulling out of play this summer.
"That was one of the hardest calls I've had to make," Greene told the Grand Forks Herald in an interview last week. "This is the last thing we wanted to do."
Greene’s group and a number of parents of the local 15-year-old Babe Ruth team were expected to meet on Monday night to discuss options for the remainder of the season. Details of that meeting were not reported to the Devils Lake Journal.
One of the options Greene discussed heading into that meeting was the possibility of playing some sort of combination of Legion games against some Class B teams in the area while also competing in a Senior Babe Ruth schedule for the 2012 season.
No matter what the outcome of Monday’s meeting determined, Greene does not see the demise of the local program, a part of the American Legion program that got its start in 1925 in Milbank, S.D. and now has 5,400 teams throughout the United States and Puerto Rico.
"I think this is a pause, not an end," Greene told the Herald. "We need to take a look at our whole program, from the bottom on up. We do have some good numbers coming up (in younger age groups). And I hope we can get the high school players interested in summer ball. We need to get the program going in the right direction.
“I don’t know if the kids realize what they’re giving up.’’
"It's a frustrating ordeal," said Matt Titus, who was recently hired to overtake the suddenly uncertain Legion program. "Players have said they were tired of losing. I can understand that, but players can only get better by being on the field and practicing."