Is this the end for Post 20 baseball?
By Mark Smith email@example.com January 15, 2013 12:30PM
Crown Point's Zach Plesac pitches for the American Legion Post #20. | Mark Smith~Sun-Times Media
Letters to the editor
American Legion Post 20 is announcing that 2012 was the last season for director of baseball operations Dave Dickerson and field manager Marty Zubriggen to be actively associated with the program.
Marty Zubriggen has cited increased working obligations at his job and farm as the primary reason he cannot devote th amount of time necessary to maintain the complex while managing the the program. Dave Dickerson has been with the program as baseball coordinator since 1995 and have been with the Sons of the American Legion Squadron Commander for the past eight years.
The demands of scheduling, fundraising, game and organization has become too much to maintain at the level required.
With Tony Samano, who manged Post 20 for 26 years, Dickerson has seen Post 20 teams win three state championships and reach six other state finals. In 1995, the programs state-wide fame soared.
In Tony Samano’s last season, he was given the Arlie Skelton Award for many years of servive for the beterment of American Legion baseball.
In 2000, Dickerson helped bring the American Legion state finals for 17-19 year olds to Crown Point and in 2003, CP’s Teagle Field hosted the state finals for the 15-17 year old bracket. Post 20’s age 15-7 year old team (the B team) won state in 2005 , 2006 and again in 2011. Dave’s son, David Dickerson, played for Post 20 from age 14-19 and was the American Legion scholarship player of the year in 2005. Samano’s son Larry succeeded him as manager in 2008 and 2009.
All deserve endless praise for all the effort they put in for Post 20 baseball.
In 2005, Post 20 had an all-time high of 17 former players on various college scholarships at the same time. This has always been the focus of the program and they remain committed to that end.
Teagle Field is the only Legion-owned baseball complex in the state of Indiana located on post property. It’s dimensions are almost identical to Gary South Shore RailCats’ US Steelyard.
The program may not survive if Post 20 cannot find a person willing to take over field maintenance mangerial and fundraising duties neceessary to support the program.
Post 20 baseball currently depnds on its outfield sign program, an annual basebal raffle and players fees to make the progranm self sufficient. The state of Indiana has seen a decline in the last eight years from a peak of over 100 American legion teams to just 36 in 2012.
If the program folds, it will be a shame for the youth of the community and for youth baseball in general. Hopefully, Post 20 can find individuals who would like to use the baseball complex. Adult baseball leagues and expansion of Senior Babe Ruth leagues are a possibility.
If you have ideas about or thoughts on summer baseball, please contact Dave Dickerson (663-2136), Marty Zurbriggen (746-0982) or Post 20 commander Don Melcher at Post 20 at 1401 Main Street. You can email Dave at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In all my time here at the Star, the most uniquely Crown Point thing I have become attached to is American Legion Post 20 baseball.
Every town has a high school and youth program and a Little League or Babe Ruth baseball.
But not every town has American Legion baseball. Legion ball in Crown Point was, in a lot of respects, a non-traveling team. You didn’t have to clear most of your summer weekend to play in the big time shootout in St. Louis.
You played most of your games in the county with or against your high school neighbors. It was what summer baseball was in this state for over 75 years.
But American Legion baseball is a decidedly 20th century thing. And like mail boxes, phone booths and, to be brutally honest, paper newspapers, American Legion baseball seems on its way into the history books.
The letter on this page is from Dave Dickerson, the longtime general manager of Crown Point American Legion baseball.
What he’s saying is: Crown Point Post 20, the flagship team of American Legion baseball in this part of the state, can’t continue its baseball program.
The phrase “End of an Era” can be overused. Not here.
Post 20 is facing 3 issues.
1. The number of American Legion teams is diminishing statewide due to travel baseball teams, club or AAU teams for other sports and the Indiana High School Athletic Association, which never excluded baseball from rules limiting participation in those clubs.
American Legion baseball didnt get the respect its 75-year history deserved.
2. There’s no one to run the team.
What former Post 20 manager Tony Samano and his family built and what recent manager Marty Zurbriggen continued has no caretaker.
3. There’s no one to maintain the field.
The crown jewel of Post 20 is its pro-sized ballpark Teagle Field, along with old Block Stadium in Esat Chicago, the most tradition-rich baseball park in Lake County.
Teagle Field, the classic 40-year old relic with the high light towers and roof covered stands on the city’s north side, is still a quality place where basbeall should be played.
Boys will always play baseball, from T-ball to age 18. Let’s let it be here.
There is some hope. Crown Point Babe Ruth has a home field over on Indiana Avenue which goes back to the Korean War.
Boys in the 21st century have far outgrown it. Senior Babe Ruth boys (ages 16-18) need a place to play with lights and stands.
Nobody has to build it. It’s sitting behind the Taco Bell at the north end of Main Street.
But somebody has to make a move before Teagle Field is neglected into disrepair like Gary’s Gilroy Stadium or the old Brickie Bowl in Hobart.
If CP Babe Ruth took over the operation of Teagle Field, it could house a senior Babe Ruth team, a south Lake County version of the long standing Hammond Chiefs program, which operates out of Riverside Park.
A Hammond-Crown Point rivalry would bring interest back to the summer and might convince players to stay home and play for the hometown.
Teagle Field could host Babe Ruth regional, state and Ohio Valley Tournament from ages 15 on up.
If the city assisted in the maintenance of Teagle, as it does the Cal Ripken and Babe Ruth fields, CP would have championship youth events with their boys playing in them every summer.
Babe Ruth tournaments actually make money (Little League cannot, by bylaw, charge admission) and could help pay for park maintenance.
The linking of Teagle Field and the Babe Ruth baseball program is consistent with CP’s stated tradition of being the hometown.
But it has to be now. Tony Samano and his family maintained the park for decades and Marty Zubriggen did it the last four years.
This city has one of the 10 best baseball ballparks in Northwest Indiana, even at its advanced age, but one or two years of inactivity and inattenton and the park is history.
Selfishly, I want to watch Crown Point boys playing ball in the big ballpark as I have every summer since I came here in 1985.
But Dave Dickerson is saying what I’m saying.
I’d also like teenage Crown Point (and maybe Lowell and Merrillville and Cedar Lake) boys to be playing baseball under the lights on the north side of Crown Point many summers long after I am gone.