Playing Ball: Mid-South Legion Brings Economic and Moral Boost to Hastings | Sports
This year’s Mid-South American Legion Regional Tournament is about more than balls and hitting.
Scheduled for August 4-8 at Duncan Field, the tournament represents a return to normalcy for players and fans after seeing last year’s tournament canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Teams participating in this year’s tournament include host team Hastings Five Points Bank and state champions from Nebraska, Arkansas, Colorado, Iowa, Kansas and Missouri.
Even though the spread of the Delta variant remains a cause for concern around the world, the resumption of the tournament is widely viewed by supporters as a positive step forward, a chance to step back before restrictive mandates and problems with health does not entail daily activities. a sudden stop.
“It’s very important that we have it this year,” said Tom Cafferty, regional council member. “It helps the community, and there are a lot more people coming in than we think. “
Teams and their families occupy hotels, share meals and shop locally during the tournament, boosting an economy that was largely at a standstill in 2020 with the closure of businesses and the cancellation of events in response to the threat posed by COVID-19. Gail Jones, chair of the Hastings Baseball Committee, hopes this year’s tournament will be a reminder of the positive experiences of those who participated in the 2019 Mid-South American Legion Regional hosted at Duncan Field.
“It was a great tournament,” Jones said. “Everything was really good, and I think it was a great experience for our children. It also had an economic impact on the community.
The canceled 2020 tournament also impacted the region, but in very different ways, he said.
“It was difficult,” he said. “It was a good decision not to have him, obviously, but we really would have liked to have him in 2020. It just wasn’t meant to be. Now we are looking forward and excited about the 2021 season.”
While giving the economy a boost is always a welcome bonus, Jones said it’s the experience the tournament creates for those stepping between the foul lines that matters most to the hosts of the tournament. tournament.
“We hope it will be a great experience for all the children who participate, not just our children,” he said. “That’s what our group is focused on, and that’s the kind of thing this tournament will hopefully bring: a lot of great memories that can last a lifetime for the participants.”
For fans, the level of competition is likely to provide some memorable moments to watch, Jones said. Certainly, the 2019 tournament was not lacking in baseball magic.
“It’s a good competition,” Jones said. “It’s something exciting for a fan to watch. If this thing looks like 2019, boy oh boy! We had some really exceptional matches.
“For children, it gives them a barometer of their correspondence. Our children play at a very high level. They expect to be successful. It doesn’t mean we’re going to win the thing, but our kids will compete at a very high level.
Playing at historic Duncan Field will give visiting players a chance to appreciate what locals have enjoyed since 1940. Built as a public works project, the field is one of Nebraska’s best sporting venues, best known for its size. deep and its distinctive red brick outer field. Wall.
A $ 2.8 million park renovation completed in 2014 made the field even more attractive and comfortable for spectators attending games.
“Duncan Field is as good a facility as there is for this type of site, not just in the state of Nebraska, but across the country,” Jones said. “We have a real gem here. I just hope the community will come and support this, as there is substantial experience involved in getting this tournament going.
Anjanette Bonham, executive director of the Adams County Visitors and Convention Bureau, said she was excited about the possibilities this year’s tournament brings to Hastings, both as an economic stimulus and a fan show. . After seeing her son, Tyson, compete for the 2019 Five Points Bank team, she expects the tournament to generate lasting memories for fans and players.
“It’s a great tournament,” she said. “It’s something fun for the whole family. It’s fun to see the boys running around in their baseball caps, admiring the older boys, and dreaming of seeing each other on the field one day.
“Our community is talking about it and really looking forward to the games and watching some great baseball. It’s a great level of play and the competition will be fun to watch. I know our businesses and stores are all aware of the tournament and are preparing in advance to meet visitors and welcome them to our community.