TRAVERSE CITY — When his second-oldest son didn’t make the varsity baseball team and was left with no other options for playing organized baseball, Cory Dean decided things needed to be done.
“I said, ‘Man, we’ve got to do something,’” he said. “They can’t just sit around.”
Not too long after, there’s an avenue for players just like Zack Dean.
American Legion Junior Baseball started up a AA league for players ages 15-18 this year after that age category’s long absence.
The AA league is a couple weeks into its season that runs through the end of July.
“For the last seven or eight years, there’s been a lot of kids who have not had any opportunity to play baseball,” Cory Dean said. “It was a shame. And I know a lot of these kids, because they played on my baseball teams over the last 14 years since they were little tee-ball kids. That compelled me to join the board of directors.”
American Legion baseball plays by Michigan High School Athletic Association rules, aside from using every player in the batting order and a different limitation on pitchers’ innings.
“My son plays for TC West,” Cory Dean said of his youngest, Jacob. “There’s a lot of good kids on the team, and there’s a lot of good kids that got cut. I bet there was 15 kids who could have been a varsity player on just about any other high school around here.”
Legion baseball has been played for 66 years in Traverse City, but the oldest league was for players up to age 15.
“We had such a calling for it the last couple years, we decided to start it back up again,” American Legion Junior Baseball board chairman Neal Horning said. “We have nine teams this year, and I think we’ll easily have 12 to 14 next year.”