Local Legion coaches unfazed by upcoming rule change

In October of 2011, American Legion baseball announced that a rule change was in place for 2015 that would no longer allow freshmen returning from college to take part in Legion summer ball.

The rule is still slated to go into effect, and that’s just fine with at least two Legion teams in the area.

Both Berlin Post 68 and Plainville Post 33 voiced their support for the rule change, believing it will help to level the playing field around the state.

“I like the new rule. I think other towns are much better teams because they have way more kids to pick from,” said Post 33 manager Jim Tufts. “But when you have more kids to pick from, that also means that you have more college kids to pick from, too. So our opponents’ teams are usually a lot older than ours. And while we only have a couple of college players who come back, some teams usually have seven. And that makes a big difference.”

Post 68 manager Rob Manzo said the rule change will help younger guys ease into Legion ball.

“I don’t think the game is going to be as fast for some of these guys,” he said. “Right now, for example, we have some kids who just finished their freshmen and sophomore years in high school who were playing against college kids. So you’re not going to see that now; you might see the sophomores against a senior in high school.

“I think the younger kids will be able to compete more and the game won’t be as fast for them right away. And I’m hoping that it will help our program a little bit where, if we are young, we can be competitive.”

While the opportunity to allow returning college freshmen to play one last year of Legion ball may have sentimental value, it very rarely provides any new opportunities for players to further their careers at the collegiate level.

However, this year, the rule allowed one former Berlin High School baseball player the chance to continue playing the sport he loves for at least for a couple more months.

“This past summer we had Colin King play for us, and he’s trying to catch on at Springfield College next year,” said Manzo. “So he’s trying to use it as a platform to play in college. He was one of the top hitters on the team (this summer), and he was a leader.”

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