What's the future of American Legion baseball in Great Falls?

Posted at 6:09 PM, Mar 28, 2023
and last updated 2023-03-28 23:34:20-04

Since 1925, American Legion Baseball has been played in cities and towns across America. Montana is welcoming its inaugural season of high school baseball which could pose a future threat to the American Legion.

“I don’t see American Legion Baseball going away. I see it growing,” explained Kim Kay McCarty Martin, an Adjutant with Post 341 Malmstrom in Great Falls.

Posts 3 and 341 are the sponsors for the Great Falls Chargers, the only American Legion-sanctioned program in Great Falls. McCarty Martin believes that the implementation of High School baseball would only bolster American Legion.

“We’re not as entwined as I would like it to be because our volunteer numbers are down.”

Participation in American Legion Posts is a common trend these days. With enrollment numbers down, it’s a trend the organization is seeing across the nation. A disconnect between a younger generation of Veterans. Martin explained that the organization is an outlet for veterans to receive care post-action and students can also receive upwards of $10,000 in scholarships yearly.

“We need to keep raising awareness. People need to know we’re here,” said McCarty Martin.

I am a former American Legion Baseball alum, playing for Post 167 in Red Bluff, California. The lifelong memories and opportunities the organization offered me are beyond measure. My career in American Legion began at a young age, from the womb to be exact. My father coached the 17u team throughout the 1980s and well into my teenage years. From bat boy to a player, American Legion helped me bolster my own collegiate career and college education.

Shane Jefferson is a senior at Great Falls High School, and the American Legion provided him an opportunity, to play the game he loves.

“This program to me means a lot. It's given me a chance to play with my best friends for years until you're about ten years old, and it's given me a chance to really represent the city well.”

In my own athletic career, I spent time in Southwest Iowa playing during my collegiate career. The team I played for had to split time at the community ballpark for the Junior Varsity and Varsity teams to play and practice. Iowa’s high school baseball season takes place in the summer months.

Those are the questions I have moving forward, toward inclement weather into late spring, hindering baseball. If Montana were to experience a shortened season in its infancy stages, could High School baseball be played in the summer?

Jordan Hollern, a Board Member of the Electric City Baseball Academy expressed his only concern regarding Montana’s baseball storm.

“If we keep our kids competing at the highest level, I think that the Chargers will be moving forward, will be good in the future and we want to be a part of the high school programs with these same kids.”

Mason Davis is Great Falls High School Senior; he sees that this could not only be a negative but a positive for Legion programs around the state.

“I think you could go either way, could be a huge benefit for the program and just completely strengthen it, or you could just completely drive it out.”

Pride for one’s team goes miles, especially in a high school, but with American Legion, you’re playing for a greater cause.

“It develops a character. You know, you're playing necessarily for the town rather than just your school. So, you've got that pride that you're going to take over in that responsibility for your town…” Davis said.

With Montana now implementing what other states have had for years; it receives a stigma that the athletes aren’t at the same level as others.

Jefferson added, “I hope it continues to grow because people in Montana, can compete just as well as any other kid from out of state. And I feel like we're looked down upon a little bit because we're not the best environment for baseball, I would say. But I feel like with more kids getting into baseball now, it'll continue to grow.”

High schools in Great Falls have yet to implement baseball into their athletic departments, but 21 schools in the Treasure State have.

The inaugural 2023 season be a trial run to test the waters on how Montana’s baseball landscape will look. All we can hope is that American Legion remains in the picture.

Questions or comments about this article/video? Click here to contact Ryan.