The Future of American Legion Baseball in Southern Illinois

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By WSIL Sports

MURPHYSBORO -- The sounds of baseball fill Riverside Park in Murphysboro on a typical summer night. Chep Kessel Field has been hosting American Legion baseball games since the 50's.

"Growing up here in Murphysboro, Legion baseball has been a part of the summer time here for as long as I can remember," Murphysboro Post 127 coach Butch Brasel said.

But in the last few years, the number of Legion teams in Southern Illinois has been cut in half. Twelve senior teams once competed in district 25, now only six remain.

"I think you're going to see that, unfortunately maybe more due to the economy, and also between the schools, the requirements they have on their children," American Legion District 25 Chairman said.

Ogle has been active in American Legion baseball since 1993. He says high school athletes are busier than ever these days, attending summer football and basketball camps. It often means baseball gets left out.

"It's made it real tough on them during the summer, it really has," Ogle added.

Brasel has been coaching Post 127 for the last 13 summers. He says winning the state title back in 2005 helped his program, but just like the other teams around the area, times are still tough.

"There's not as many American Legion posts as there has been in years past and the money is tight," he said. "Everything costs more to do and there's less money to get those things done with."

Even though numbers are lower at the senior level, there are more Junior Legion teams in our region this year. Brasel says it's an encouraging sign.

"We root for and we hope that those other communities keep American Legion teams cause if we're the only American Legion team in Southern Illinois it's not going to do us a whole lot of good."
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