"A once in a lifetime experience."
That was the common refrain from all of the players and coaches of Henderson, Nev., Post 40 as they took in the events in Houston this past weekend.
As the 2017 American Legion World Series champions, the Blue Sox were honored guests of Major League Baseball in Houston surrounding Game 4 of an incredible seven-game World Series, which featured notable former American Legion players.
The Astros, managed by former Post 170 (Okla.) player A.J. Hinch, earned the first World Series win in franchise history. Justin Verlander of Post 201 (Va.) and New Mexico's Alex Bregman played starring roles for Houston.
Before Game 4, the team participated in a Play Ball clinic for youth at the Astros Youth Academy with Anthony Rizzo of the Chicago Cubs, gold medalist Jennie Finch, commissioner Rob Manfred, Houston mayor Sylvester Turner and Astros owner Jim Crane.
“To be there and to be a role model for these younger players was really cool,” said third baseman Jesse Fonteboa of Post 40. “This experience has been awesome.”
Other clinicians included the Youth of the Year winners from the seven MLB Youth Academies, members of USA Baseball, USA Softball and members of MLB’s Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities (RBI) program.
Just prior to first pitch, the team took to the field again, this time getting the spotlight.
In front of an announced crowd of 43,322 the team was honored on the field.
“For decades, American Legion Baseball has taught hundreds of thousands of young Americans the importance of sportsmanship, good health and active citizenship,” the public address announcer stated to a nice ovation. “From Henderson, Nevada, here is the Post 40 American Legion team that won the 91st American Legion World Series this year. Congratulations to these guys, the 2017 American Legion World Series champions!”
Later, FOX sent analyst Alex Rodriguez to the section to do a segment with some of the youth in attendance as guests of Major League Baseball.
“It was really cool to be around the kids and be able to support all of the youth,” said Scott Baker, manager of Post 40. “For our players to be able to be involved and give back was a really great experience.”