CALAIS, Maine — The Calais American Legion baseball team, citing a lack of players, has folded for the season.
Calais was 0-6 in Zone 1 play. The remaining games on their schedule will go down as forfeit wins for their opponents.
“We were down to eight or nine players,” said Mike Boies, who took over from head coach Chris Johnson after a few weeks. “We started with 12 players but had a couple of injuries and a few of our other players found full-time jobs that they didn’t have when they signed up for the team. And they couldn’t get out of work [sometimes]. It snowballed.”
Zone 1 Commissioner Dave Paul said Calais has had an American Legion program since 1992, and he is hoping the program can return next summer. He said there isn’t a “hard and fast rule” pertaining to suspending a program for a period of time before allowing it to return.
The Trenton Legion team didn’t field a team last season after more than 30 years in existence but has returned this season.
“We recognize these are difficult times with everything going on these days. There are so many other options for kids in the summer like basketball, soccer, seven-on-seven football and hockey,” said Paul noting that is in addition to jobs and family vacations.
“Kids need jobs to pay for their gas and car insurance,” said Paul. “There’s a whole combination of things. It’s quite a bit tougher than it was five or 10 years ago.”
American Legion posts can’t afford to fund the teams any more, continued Paul, and businesses have been contacted about sponsoring things during the school year so “it’s tough to raise money to maintain and run a program. They have to find sponsors.”
Paul said Calais is at a distinct disadvantage travel-wise as it has to travel the farthest among the zone’s teams.
“To travel two or three hours [one way] for a game was tough,” said Calais center fielder Scott Boies, Mike’s son.
Mike Boies said if they had to travel to Dover-Foxcroft to play Penquis in a 4:30 game on Tuesday, then the team would have to leave by 12:30 p.m. or 1.
It is 124 miles from Calais to Dover-Foxcroft.
“And some of the guys wouldn’t have been able to get out of work,” said Mike Boies.
Paul also pointed out that all but one of the schools that Calais draws from are (small) Class C or D schools. Washington Academy of East Machias is the only Class B school and it just moved up to B from C two years ago.
Calais is comprised of players from Washington County schools. Calais is a Class C school while Jonesport-Beals, Shead of Eastport, Woodland and Machias are Class D schools. Paul also said they have occasionally had players from St. Stephen, New Brunswick.
The other teams in the zone are Bangor, Brewer, Motor City of Bangor, Northern Lumber of Millinocket/Lincoln, Trenton, Hampden and Penquis of Dover-Foxcroft.
Calais has made the Zone 1 Legion Tournament “four or five times” according to Paul and they made their only state tournament appearance in 2003.
Mike Boies said he is “very optimistic” he will be able to field a team with a roster of 15-17 players next summer and he intends to actively recruit players for the team.
Paul said if Calais intends to return next summer, he will be careful to make sure the team has enough players to avoid a repeat of this season.
He said they start putting together a Zone 1 schedule in January and he will have to make a decision “if we’re going to add any teams” by mid-February at a zone commissioners meeting. Representative of all of the American Legion teams in the five zones have to attend a mandatory meeting on the last Sunday in April.