Ephrata lands 2017 PA American Legion Tourney

By on July 20, 2016

While the Ephrata legion baseball team came up short in its attempt to land a slot in the 2016 Pennsylvania State Legion Tournament, the Post 429 squad has already qualified for the 2017 Tourney….with a stroke of a pen.

Chrysler’s Manager Derek Sipe handed the signed contract to PA American Legion Activities Director John Weist over the weekend, making Ephrata the first Lancaster County (District 10) team to host the State Tournament in the 72-year history of American Legion Baseball.

The 2017 Pennsylvania Legion Baseball Tournament will take place July 25-29 at the Ephrata War Memorial Field. The Chryslers, as the host team, will get an automatic bid to compete.

Weist joined Sipe and this reporter on April 6 of this year for an informational meeting, followed by a tour of the War Memorial Field.

“The playing facility is terrific,” noted Weist. “I was at the Regional (PA Region 4) last year. With the upgrades to the field, it makes it one of the premier facilities in the state.”

Post 429 will have its hands full with the many details involved in hosting the event, work that begins now.

“We have to put together the sponsors and the program, reserve rooms for the players and the umpires, and host an opening banquet (July 24),” described Sipe. “There will be many people in the area, and financially, there will be a trickle effect.”

Sipe is also understandably proud of the historic success of Ephrata American Legion Baseball on the field, as he prepares for this undertaking.

“This has been a baseball town,” added Sipe. “We’ve tried to bring in the best baseball we can. The appeal is for those teams to play on our field. The community can come out and appreciate good baseball.”

Part of that quality was on display earlier this month when eight teams from as far away as New Jersey and Pittsburgh participated in the second annual “Clash of the Titans” Invitational at the War Memorial Field. The Chryslers have represented District 10 in the last six consecutive Region Four tournaments. Also, the 1990 Ephrata Elks legion team is still the only Lancaster County team to advance to the National Legion Tournament.

Lancaster County Legion Baseball participation has reduced since then with only seven teams taking the field in 2016, raising the question, can hosting the state tournament rejuvenate interest in local Legion Baseball?

“It’s quite an honor to be selected,” said District 10 President and Region Four Director Bruce Daveler. “It’s a beautiful facility. They proved that they could do a nice job last year in the Regional. It’s hard to say whether this will bring back some of the teams. The number of teams throughout the state has declined in all areas.”

Another new event will take place at the “War” this Saturday and Sunday as each of the Region Four counties will field all-star teams in a Showcase Tournament.

“We’ve invited more than 80 college coaches to watch the best underclassmen from each county,” explained Daveler.

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