The "Boys of Summer" are back and the American Legion World Series has 'em!
Always a fan favorite, ALWS baseball is back after a 2020 hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic, as noted in a recent media release in which the head of the nation's largest veteran's organization announced the ALWS's eight-team championship tournament will be played in Shelby, N.C., Aug. 12-17, weather permitting.
American Legion National Commander James W. "Bill" Oxford noted he is "...extremely excited about the return of this fantastic event," adding that with the "... availability of vaccines and additional data showing that young people participating in outdoor activities represent a low risk for spread of the virus, we feel that we can conduct a safe World Series."
Oxford added, "This is a very different environment than what we faced last year. Many of us eagerly await the umpire's welcoming words, 'play ball!'"
According to Shelby ALWS officials, Idaho Falls, ID, won the 2019 ALWS 5-3 win over Fargo, ND, on Wednesday, Aug. 21, "...after a rain delay on Championship Tuesday forced the game to be completed the next morning." 2019 marked the third straight year Idaho sent a team to the ALWS, and the state's ninth appearance overall. 2019's championship was the state's first.
The 2021 ALWS will be the 10th World Series in Shelby-Cleveland County since the city became the official home of the tournament in 2011.
Executive Committee of Cleveland County ALWS Baseball Inc., Chairman Eddie Holbrook, said they are responsible for recruiting volunteers and establishing the portion of the organization for which their chairmanship oversees.
"My job is to organize the committee, raise funds for the organization and make sure everything moves forward," said Mr. Holbrook, a retired County Commissioner (2006-2018). Holbrook, a former 20-year college basketball coach, was a sporting goods business owner for four years; and a fundraising official for 25 years. He noted the ALWS committee's goal is to run the tournament in 2021 as it was run in 2019.
"The challenge for our committee is doing seven months of work in three and a half months," he said. "Keeter Stadium turf and fencing have been completely replaced in the last year; all else is good to go."
Mr. Holbrook noted health guidelines will be followed as per N.C. and Cleveland County dictates, adding that neither appears at this time to have any restrictions.
He continued, "Our committee is not anticipating any problems. We have been in contact since 2019 and much of our membership has been intact for more than 10 years. We have a solid, experienced group of volunteers."
The N.C. State Tournament is to be played in Cherryville, N.C., Tuesday, July 27 through Sunday, Aug. 1; the Southeast Regional, at Asheboro, N.C., Tuesday, July 20 through Saturday, July 24; and the ALWS in Shelby Aug. 12-17.
The American Legion will observe Center for Disease Control guidelines and local and state public health mandates for all of its national programs.