This year’s Illinois American Legion Great Lakes Regional has a new home. It’s now at SIUE instead of Gordon Moore Park in Alton. The summer baseball event is set for Aug. 3-7 on Lee Field at the Simmons Complex.
The Alton and Edwardsville Legion programs will co-host the eight team event and the Metro East Bears will serve as the host team. The Bears finished second to Midland, Mich., in the 2015 finals at Alton.
“The partnership between Alton Post 126 and Edwardsville Post 199 in hosting the 2015 American Legion Great Lakes Regional at Lloyd Hopkins Field was a very successful endeavor,” said Wally Owczarzak, Alton Post 126 American Legion Commander. “It was truly exciting to watch our boys receive the runner-up trophy and almost advance to the World Series.”
He added, “I’m looking forward to continuing this partnership with Edwardsville Post 199, as we again host the 2016 American Legion Great Lakes Regional at Roy E. Lee field at SIUE. This summer should prove just as exciting.”
The official announcement followed thoughtful consideration of all interests — players, communities involved, sponsor support, facility, and the future of American Legion Baseball, Bears’ general manager Dennis Sharp.
The Great Lakes Regional is a six-day event held in early August. Sharp is the tournament director, while Patrick McGinnis serves as the assistant director. Matt McSparin, Ron Tanner and Rick Vaughn are also directly involved in the process.
The following is an excerpt from the final report submitted to American Legion Baseball in Indianapolis by regional director Derrick Ater of Lewiston, Idaho:
“In truth, without the tireless (and cheerful) efforts of Dennis (Sharp) and all of these fine individuals (the local tournament host committee) this tournament simply would not have been the phenomenal success that it was,” he said.
Sharp said, “We salute Alton for their efforts in 2015. It should be noted that The Atrium Hotel, the Grandpa Gang, more than 30 local and regional sponsors, food vendors, and scores of local volunteers were wonderful to work with.
He added, “A sudden wave of summer storms really took a toll on Hopkins Field at the onset of the 2015 tournament. Everyone involved had to scramble to find and then finance use of an alternative venue that was playable.
“The participating teams were very gracious but it was a mental and physical drain on everyone. We owe it to the players and American Legion volunteers to play the 2016 tournament where weather won’t be an issue. The Simmons Baseball Complex, with an artificial surface and state-of-the-art drainage system, is pretty well rain proof.”
Alton Post 126 commander Owczarzak is also thrilled about holding the regional at SIUE.
“Half of the regional host squad Metro East Bears Legion roster comes from Edwardsville,” he said. “We couldn’t be happier with SIUE and the Community of Edwardsville stepping up to accommodate this move.”
The American Legion baseball headquarters in Indianapolis publishes a manual of expectations and protocols for host communities to follow. This places a considerable amount of scrutiny on the local organizers to protect the quality and integrity of the tournament’s rich tradition of excellence. The American Legion was chartered by Congress in 1919 as a patriotic veterans’ organization.
For more information about American Legion baseball or sponsorships for the 2016 regional, contact Sharp at (618) 920-8938 or email@example.com.
To review info from the the 2015 Regional Tourney visit: http://www.leaguelineup.com/welcome.asp?url=legion&sid=561392132