American Legion Baseball has been a summertime mainstay in the Mocksville/Davie area for decades. I recall as a child watching the games with hundreds of supporting fans, sitting on “the hill” or in the stand with friends and family…ready to pounce at a stray ball and trying to not become a peanut gallery casualty. Then I would wait for the end of the game, anxiously hoping the players would sign my hard-earned ball. I remember my grandfather taking us to the game but, never getting out of his car. I also remember the Rich Park hot dogs, best around, as well as the popcorn and ice cold sodas.
Come and relive those good times this summer as the Mocksville-Davie American Legion Baseball Post 174/Post 54 hosts the 2017 North Carolina Junior American Legion Baseball State Championship Tournament!
The tournament will be held at Rich Park’s Mando Field July 14th– 19th, 2017. The eight-team field will consist of four area champions, three runner-ups and the host team, Mocksville. Mocksville has competed in the North Carolina Junior State tournament twice, once in Salisbury (2004) and once in Cherryville (2007).
State Baseball Commissioners Select Mocksville after Visit to Mando Field and Rich Park
Mr. Charles Kurfees, former player and Junior Legion team coach, explained that the tournament rotates every year between the four areas of the state. This year was our area’s turn. Our region, Region III, includes cities from Burlington to Albermarle. Six out of 22 teams bid on the tournament. The bids and proposals are reviewed by the state baseball commissioners who also conduct a site survey of the facilities. A vote is cast and Mocksville won over some great programs for this year’s slot. Mr. Kurfees hopes that if the Post does well with this tournament, it will be elected to host a Senior tournament in the future. A tournament like this creates a tremendous positive on the local economy. The 2016 World Series Tournament held in Shelby, NC reported an attendance of over 117,000 fans!
Mr. Kurfees feels that “the Legion program is an excellent experience for high school age youth and that participation in the program instills an attitude of hard work, team work and friendly competition.” He added that there are no fees to play. All transportation, uniforms, food and lodging is provided free of charge by the American Legion.
“Some of the best days of my life”
Former Junior and Senior ball player, Jacob Barber, commented that “the Legion program was the best. You compete with and get to know some of the best players in the state. It’s hard work, you play a lot of games in a short span of time, and it’s hot, but it’s worth every minute of it. It’s truly the Boys of Summer. Those were some of the best days of my life.”
History of American Legion Baseball
The American Legion was chartered and incorporated by Congress in 1919 as a patriotic veterans organization devoted to mutual helpfulness. It is the nation’s largest wartime veterans’ service organization, committed to mentoring youth and sponsorship of wholesome programs in our communities, advocating patriotism and honor, promoting strong national security, and continued devotion to our fellow service-members and veterans.
Hundreds of local American Legion programs and activities strengthen the nation one community at a time.
American Legion Baseball is a national institution that still stands behind the traditional values upon which it was founded in 1925. It has thrived through wars, national tragedies, and times of despair. American Legion Baseball has taught hundreds of thousands of young Americans the importance of sportsmanship, good health and faithful citizenship. The program promotes equality, making teammates out of young athletes, regardless of race, income levels, or social standings. American Legion Baseball has been and continues to be one of many stepping stones to adulthood for millions of young men. Many have gone on to serve the country or community, raise families, or compete at the highest level.
The league was first proposed at an American Legion state convention in Milbank, SD, when Sioux Falls attorney and Department Commander Frank G. McCormick invited his close friend, Maj. John L. Griffith to address the convention. Instead of a traditional speech, Griffith spoke about the positive impact athletics has on youth.
“The American Legion could well consider the advisability of assisting in the training of young Americans through athletic games,” Griffith stated during the convention. “Athletic competition teaches courage and respect for others, fostering their growth into active citizens.”
The convention agreed and passed a resolution urging the Legion to create an organized summer baseball league that started each June. National Commander James A. Drain backed the resolution, which passed that fall at the Legion’s national convention in Omaha, Neb. It read:
“RESOLVED: That the American Legion… inaugurate and conduct baseball leagues and tournaments for local championships. And that local champions determined by the competition be given the opportunity to compete in departmental, sectional and regional tournaments and that a junior world series championship baseball series be conducted at each national convention….”
The first program in the world to provide a national baseball tournament for teenagers, American Legion baseball was born.
N.C. Junior American Legion State Tournament Sites:
Be sure to mark your calendar for this season’s events and come out and support your American Legion Baseball!