Legion Baseball flashback: An overnight title

Legion Baseball flashback: An overnight title

Eden Prairie, Minn., was one of the top American Legion Baseball programs in the last 20 years with four American Legion World Series appearances and seven state titles.

A 2011 ALWS champion, Eden Prairie also finished fifth in the 2004 ALWS and runner-up twice (in 2007 and 2010).

The 2007 team had to endure weather issues that created one of the strangest paths to the ALWS.

Eden Prairie celebrated their Central Plains Regional title in the early morning of Aug. 20, 2007, after five inches of rainfall in Marshall, Minn., led the last five games of the seven-team regional to be moved 155 miles away to the Minneapolis Metrodome.

The facility, then home to both the major league Minnesota Twins and NFL Minnesota Vikings, wasn’t available until after the Twins completed a series with the Texas Rangers on Sunday afternoon. And since the Twins had a series against the Seattle Mariners set to start the next night, the rush was on to finish up the tournament in order to send its champion to the 2007 ALWS in Bartlesville, Okla.

How unusual was the situation?

The story of the American Legion Baseball teams playing five games from 9:30 p.m. on Sunday, Aug. 19, to 10:30 a.m. the next morning was the 1A story for Tuesday, Aug. 21, in the Star Tribune newspaper in Minneapolis, Minn., with the headline of “Dome saves the (rainy) day; Teams played all night long.”

To win the regional, Eden Prairie won three games in a nine-hour period, defeating Plover, Wis., 10-2; Omaha, Neb., 4-1; and Plover again by a 10-2 score to earn its ALWS berth. The first game began at 1 a.m., the second at 5 a.m. and finale at 8:30 a.m.

“There was one time when we were all in the dugout, and someone randomly said, ‘Guys, it’s six o’clock in the morning,’” Eden Prairie shortstop Kyle Geason told the Star Tribune. “Everyone just started laughing. It was surreal.”

But given the excessive rainfall and deadline for a champion to be determined from the regional tournament, Legion officials had no choice but hope the Twins would allow the five remaining teams the opportunity to conclude the double-elimination tournament indoors.

“We were trying to find a dry field,” Eden Prairie coach Jeff Gagstetter told the Star Tribune. “Nothing was dry. North was wet, south was wet, west was wet, east was wet.”

Gagstetter said the circumstances allowed themselves for multiple one-liners, particularly after Eden Prairie won to advance to a 12:30 p.m. game in Bartlesville, Okla., four days later in the opening round of the 2007 ALWS.

When Gagstetter told the Star Tribune reporter about his upcoming game time, the next question that followed was, “A.M. or P.M.?”

Gagstetter responded, “Yeah, that's p.m. But we’re flexible.”

Eden Prairie took its regional title-winning momentum into the ALWS with a 19-6 opening round victory over Tucson, Ariz.

Even after an 11-10 loss to Boyertown, Pa., on the second day, Eden Prairie came through the loser’s bracket with wins over Bellingham, Wash., (7-3), Columbia, Tenn. (8-5) and Tucson, Ariz. (8-3) before losing a “winner-take-all” finale to Columbia, 11-4.

Danny Miller hit .513 and struck out 22 in national postseason play that season to lead Eden Prairie, which finished 45-11 overall.

For his efforts, Miller was named ALWS MVP with Geason (utility), Miller (pitcher) and J.T. Canakes (outfielder) on the 2007 ALWS all-tournament team.

Eden Prairie would finish as runner-up again in 2010 in Spokane, Wash., before winning the 2011 ALWS in Shelby, N.C.


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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