Unique schedule for Legion Baseball in Iowa
Shraden Lechtenberg of Cedar Rapids, IA. Post 671 celebrates after a run by Kade Knock of Cedar Rapids, IA. Post 671 during Game 2 of The 2023 American Legion World Series at Veterans Field at Keeter Stadium in Shelby, N.C., on Thursday, August 10. Photo by Chet Strange/The American Legion

Unique schedule for Legion Baseball in Iowa

Iowa’s place in American Legion Baseball history will always be strong if for no other reason than the first ALB alumnus to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame is the legendary Bob Feller, from Van Meter, Iowa.

The state, at least since 1946, has held a unique distinction in national American Legion Baseball competition as the only state that plays its regular season games in the spring and not the summer.

The logistics of such a schedule would seem to create a competitive disadvantage for Iowa’s teams when they begin national competition.

Recent American Legion World Series coach Andy Volz of Cedar Rapids Post 671 isn’t sure if it is or isn’t.

“That’s a good question,” Volz said during Post 671’s 2023 ALWS appearance in Shelby, N.C. “Somebody a lot smarter than me should answer that. I like it in the summer because when we watch our kids play, we don’t freeze to death and we can get 40 games in.

“But is it an advantage or disadvantage for Legion baseball or travel baseball? I really don’t know.”

On the field, at least recently, it hasn’t proved to be a disadvantage.

Iowa’s state champion has made three ALWS appearances since 2018: Dubuque County in 2018 and 2021 and Cedar Rapids last August.

The 2018 team snapped a 32-year ALWS drought as Cedar Rapids’ old Post 5 team had made the state’s five appearances from 1971 to 1986. Waterloo Post 138 was the state’s first ALWS participant in 1964.

The nature of the American Legion Baseball schedule for Iowa teams has been altered over the years.

When regular season games were moved to the spring in 1946, after high school competition was held in the summer months, the top ALB teams played a state tournament in early August to determine the national participant.

Three times in the last four years, Iowa’s ALB state tournament was simply played in the first week of May, shortly after the regular season competition had ended.

“We start in the middle of March, weather permitting, and we finish in the first of May,” Volz said. “After our state tournament, the guys go on and play for their high schools and we pick them up about a week and a half before the regionals and get ready to play.”

Last season, Post 671 defeated defending state champion Moville Post 303, 10-6, in the title game on May 7 at Cedar Rapids.

“They did it that way because of the high school season,” Volz said. “They found that in the past a lot of kids wanted to go on vacation and not complete the season with their Legion teams. So the Iowa Legion made the decision to do the tournament before the high school season.”

Last summer, Post 671 didn’t play a game from May 7’s state tournament championship until Aug. 2, the first game of the Great Lakes Regional in Midland, Mich.

Not that the time off had an impact as Cedar Rapids rolled to five straight regional wins to advance to the ALWS.

Iowa teams will continue on with their schedule as the Iowa High School Athletic Association voted in support of keeping that schedule last August.

American Legion Baseball

American Legion Baseball

American Legion Baseball enjoys a reputation as one of the most successful and tradition-rich amateur athletic leagues. Today, the program registers more than 5,400 teams in all 50 states, including Canada and Puerto Rico.

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