BANGOR, Maine — The era of free agency in sports has arrived in the American Legion Zone 1 baseball ranks — at least for this summer.
The recent decision to fold the Motor City of Bangor entry when a head coach could not be found, along with an earlier move by Penquis of Dover-Foxcroft to field only a Junior Legion team this summer and the lack of a Legion baseball program in the Midcoast region has left older players from 25 high schools within Zone 1’s vast central and northern Maine geographic reach without an affiliated Legion program for which to play.
Under a plan developed by state Legion field director Dennis Damon and Zone 1 commissioner Dave Paul, players from 18 of those schools located north or west of Greater Bangor will be able to try out for any of the three Senior Legion teams in that area — Bangor, Brewer and Hampden.
“We spent the last couple weeks trying to get someone to step up and coach [Motor City],” said Paul. “We thought we had a couple but things fell through and team registration and insurance had to be in by [Thursday] so we’ve basically exhausted all of our avenues and had to make a decision.”
The 18 unaffiliated high schools are Houlton, Southern Aroostook of Dyer Brook, Katahdin of Stacyville, Schenck of East Millinocket, Stearns of Millinocket, Lee Academy, Mattanawcook Academy of Lincoln, Penobscot Valley of Howland, Old Town, Orono, John Bapst of Bangor, Bangor Christian, Greenville, Piscataquis of Guilford, Dexter, Foxcroft Academy of Dover-Foxcroft, Penquis Valley of Milo and Central of Corinth.
“Essentially what’s going to happen is kids from those 18 schools are going to be free agents,” said Paul. “If they try out for a team and don’t make it or that team is full, then they can try out for another one of those three teams if there are open spots.”
Players from those 18 schools interested in playing American Legion baseball this summer should contact one of the following people affiliated with the existing Greater Bangor programs: Bangor, Dave Morris at 992-6639 or firstname.lastname@example.org; Brewer, Shane Graham at 991-4006 or SCG_12@hotmail.com or George Maxsimic at 852-9091 or email@example.com; Hampden, Rob Spreng at 217-2223 or firstname.lastname@example.org or McLean Poulin at 478-6933 or email@example.com.
Seven high schools in Waldo and Knox counties — Lincoln Academy of Newcastle, Medomak Valley of Waldoboro, Oceanside of Rockland-Thomaston, Mount View of Thorndike, Camden Hills of Rockport, Belfast and Searsport — also are without affiliated Legion baseball programs.
According to the plan for this summer, players from Belfast and Searsport may try out for one of the Bangor-area teams if they are not currently on a team roster.
Players from Lincoln Academy, Medomak Valley, Oceanside, Camden Hills and Mount View may try out for any of the other Zone 1 American Legion baseball teams: Skowhegan, Post 51 of Oakland or the Trenton Acadians.
Those contacts are: Trenton Acadians, Pat Maguire at 667-7724 or firstname.lastname@example.org or Bill Gray at 266-0613 or email@example.com; Post 51, Rusty Mercier at 660-2145 or firstname.lastname@example.org; Skowhegan, Roger Stinson at 290-1647 or email@example.com.
Any player from an unaffiliated high school in northern or midcoast Maine selected to a team for the 2017 season automatically will be released from that roster on Dec. 31 regardless of whether he has additional playing eligibility. The player’s status for next year will depend on plans by Legion officials to update the drawing areas for each Zone 1 program before the start of the 2018 season.
“We’ve already talked about redrawing those lines because things have changed so much over the years,” Paul said. “It’s so antiquated the way it is now so we’re planning to redo it for next year.
“The bottom line is we’re trying to find a place for every kid who wants to play Legion baseball to play Legion baseball.”
Paul said the final touches are being put on the revised 2017 American Legion Zone 1 schedule, with each of the six teams expected to play a 15-game regular-season schedule involving 10 nine-inning games and five seven-inning games that lead up to the Zone 1 tournament in late July.
The original plan had the Zone 1 season set to begin on June 18.