Claremore Daily Progress

July 2, 2011

LETTER: Claremore American Legion baseball invests in players and community

Letter to Editor
Claremore Progress

CLAREMORE — Dear Editor:

I am writing to express my concern over the comments of Sports Editor Tim Ritter titled “American Legion drops the ball on state tourneys.”

I do agree on one thing written in the editorial, it is a shame for the Claremore players not being able to play in the American Legion AA and AAA state championships.

The American Legion State Committee for Baseball announced the events were cancelled due to a lack of team participation in the Oklahoma region.

A State Championship should be an accomplishment of a lifetime, not a trophy given for participation.   

The suggestion that the players haven’t gotten their monies worth without a championship tournament is absurd.

Both teams will play at least 30 games and one of the teams may play as many as 40.

 Both teams, by the way, pay $250 per player. The total income from player fees will be $7,500  

The Claremore Legion program for years has also offered scholarships for those player’s families in need, and in the case of brothers playing, the family is only charged one fee.

To answer the question of how much does it cost to run a baseball program, last year the total was just short of $20,000 for three teams and the year previous the Claremore Legion Program spent over $25,000.

This year expenses will be lower because of only being able to field two teams instead of three.

I would ask Mr. Ritter to talk to any past coach of Claremore High School Baseball for the past 30 years, Brent Payne, Ron Bradley, Jerry Rutledge, Matt Murray, Brannon Feese, and Russ Walden and see what they think about Legion Baseball in Claremore.

There opinion I believe would be quite different than the one Mr. Ritter was depicting coming from a uninformed parent. Claremore Baseball is strong, great kids, great coaches, and yes, great parents.

These are the fine people who run the concession stand for Claremore Baseball.

They are contracted by Legion Baseball to help them make money for the Claremore Dugout Booster Club. In the past 6 years the Legion program volunteers have donated over $20,000 to Zebra Baseball and also $20,000 plus to RSU Hillcat Baseball.

The Legion Volunteers do get some great benefits. When the kids tell you thanks, when the parents and Dugout Club tell you that they are glad we are there. Heck, the Dugout Club even feeds us great burgers, dogs, and sodas.

To ask long time sponsors Pixley Lumber and 1st Bank Oklahoma to override a decision that was made and voice a strong opinion to the league commissioner, what vote do you think took place?

There were not enough teams to play a tournament. End of story.

The Claremore Head Commissioner, Mark Haggard, is trying to make lemonade out of lemons in this situation.

Both Claremore teams are registered to play in a tournament at Driller Stadium in July.

The event will host teams across the region. Most of these teams are “All-Star” or “Prospect” teams who recruit players from all over, and charge as much as $2,500 per player.  Our kids will be a decided underdog, but will have one thing going for them.

They will be representing a class program who will be proud to have the name Claremore on the front of each player’s uniform.

It may not be an “American Legion” tournament, but it will guarantee five games each at Driller Stadium.  

The cost of this tournament was not a concern to the legion volunteers, even though it was the highest price ever paid by a Claremore Legion team.

The people involved with Claremore Legion Baseball wanted to make sure that “OUR” kids were getting their money’s worth.

Yes, I have taken this editorial very personal. Two close friends of mine asked me to help with Legion Baseball in Claremore nearly 15 years ago.  

Those two people, A.G. Murray and Paul Pixley have done more for baseball in Claremore than anyone.

This slanderous article, full of misconception, innuendo, and wrong information will not damage the reputation Claremore Baseball or the reputation of the volunteers who have given of themselves to the program.  

Their reputations will survive; time will tell if his will.

Dave Wilber, Treasurer

Claremore Legion Baseball 2000-2011