Harvey: Legion not feasible in NH

NASHUA – American Legion baseball appears to be set to go in South Dakota this summer, despite not being sponsored by the National Legion Organization.

So that begs the question: Why not other states, including New Hampshire?

“Once National sent us the email saying they weren’t going to back us, I would have to take the responsibility on for the whole state myself,” New Hampshire Legion baseball director Rick Harvey of Hudson said. “It never occurred to me to do that. It’s more or less creating your own league, and I never thought to do that.”

The email National officials sent to all state Legion organizations around the country early last week said that the National Legion Organization would not sponsor baseball this summer, and any teams opting to play would not be doing so as an American Legion National Organization “registered” team, “and is not playing in an American Legion National Organization baseball team.”

It went on to say that “Those departments that conduct this 2020 baseball season program will need to determine their rules, guidelines, schedules, insurance coverage, etc., for their own programs as the American Legion National Organization will not provide this assistance.”

In other words, evidently there was nothing to prevent states from having their own Legion programs, but they’d be on their own. Published reports say South Dakota Legion officials held an emergency meeting and approved a state-run program to be run by willing Posts, coaches and managers.

But Harvey on Monday told The Telegraph there were two major obstacles to New Hampshire doing that. One, he doubted he could get state Legion approval, and that many local Legion posts likely would not go along with it without national sponsorship, insurance, etc.

“They would’ve had to back me in Concord,” he said. “I couldn’t have done it on my own. I would’ve had to get the permission of (state Legion officials) to do that … I think I would’ve gotten a lot of nos. I don’t think it would’ve passed the (state) committee. There were a lot of guys shaky about it.”

Besides providing insurance, Harvey said the National Organization also provides other administrative services. Doing some of those on their own would have been too costly and time consuming, he said.

Harvey said he also felt without National backing, many Legion Posts around the state would not have been willing.

“I assume so,” Harvey said. “The more teams there would be, the worse it would be. You still have the responsibility. … They have to go out and buy the insurance, and you still have the same problems, wait and see the guidelines, wait and see if you have fields. You’re starting from scratch again.”

The only positive, he said, to having Legion teams play without the National umbrella would enable rosters to be larger.

Currently, some Legion teams in the state, including Nashua and Merrimack – Tim Lunn, who would have managed the Coffey Post Senior team is helping to lead the charge — are looking to put a summer league and schedule together on their own (no Posts involved) along with some AAU teams. But, they are still waiting for summer youth baseball to be approved by Governor Chris Sununu and his COVID-19 task force.

“There’s a lot,” Harvey said. “I don’t know how they’ll administrate it. There’s a lot of responsibility.

“There’s teams out there. I’m sure most coaches will follow the rules. But there is no legal thing (to follow), now that the Legion is gone.”

Gone in most states, including New Hampshire, but seemingly alive in South Dakota.