Indiana ready to host state tournament
During the Junior American Legion Western Regional Tournament, tournament director Dick Clawson oversaw as many as four games at a time.
But with the state tournament beginning today, Clawson has become a director of a different sort -- becoming a tour director in his hometown.
"It's really a lot of fun," Clawson said. "We give the parents something to do. It brings a lot of money to the town. We just want to support the people that support us."
This is the first year in Junior Legion history that a regional and state tournament have been held at the same venue (the White Township Recreation Complex in Indiana), but only Clawson and Indiana Junior Legion co-president Doug Steve have been running the entire operation.
"We clicked; we really did," Clawson said. "He's a good guy to work with."
Throughout the regional tournament, Steve was in charge of all baseball operations, while Clawson took care of hotel arrangements and dining accommodations. Those responsibilities will extend to the state tournament, which runs through Saturday.
"We have some pretty good baseball in this area," said Steve, who has held his position for the past six years. "We'll have some pretty good competition, and even if there aren't any county teams left, I still believe we are going to have some good quality baseball."
Four teams will come from the Eastern Regional, while three from the Western Regional and host team S.W. Jack will convene today for the tournament. Only two teams -- Boyertown and Fezzell Enterprises -- are returning from last year's state tournament.
"We're hungrier than last year," said Fezzell coach Dan Furman, whose team finished second in the regional last week. "Last year, we lost two one-run games. We're more out to win this year.
Clawson said, however, he is hoping for a better turn out than when the state tournament was last held in Indiana.
"(In 2001), 28 (parents from Boyertown) took over local restaurants and stayed there all night," Clawson said. "It's going to be a question of how many parents come, but the restaurants will run some specials and some interesting menus."
Unlike the regional tournament, the complex will only use two fields instead of the available four because of state staffing. Umpires for the games will be pulled from the Indiana area, unlike the senior Legion state tournament, where one is pulled from each of the regions. Most of the volunteers will come from the Indiana Area High School Baseball Boosters, and foul ball chasers will be from the local Little League.
"We have this down to a science," said Clawson who has been running regional tournaments with Steve since 2001. "Doug's a good organizer."
Even with all the stress of running two tournaments, Clawson wouldn't have it any other way.
"It's being able to see the best eight teams in the region and now the best eight in the state," he said. "A couple a years ago, a couple major leaguers playing here like (Indiana native) Mike Ryan. You never know whose going to be in junior legion."
Junior American Legion State Tournament
Where: White Township Recreation Complex, Indiana
When: Today through Saturday. Games begin at noon.
Tickets: $3 for adults, $1 for students