Post 188 American Legion Head Coach Brian Tomasini smiled broadly as nearly three dozen ballplayers and parents filled a virtual Zoom chat room last Thursday afternoon to hear the plans that he and the staff of the local high level baseball club have planned this summer.
Despite American Legion baseball being called off for the summer at the state level for 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic, Tomasini and several other southeastern Massachusetts coaches are still hoping to host some competitive ball games this summer.
Tomasini acknowledged that there are still hurdles to clear if the ball club is to compete in the coming months, but he said that the Clark-Haddad Post 188 group intends on having both a junior and senior club compete in 2020 independently.
“We understand, and support, that American Legion has canceled this summer (at the zone levels),” he told those assembled online. “Our district has decided to play independently...we will be playing against a lot of the same teams that we were going to be playing already, and some new teams that are out of area that plan on doing the same thing.”
Tomasini said that Post 188 will “jump right back in” and play the same legion schedule as past years in 2021.
One of the biggest hurdles facing the ball clubs was finding a place to hold practices and games, since all schools and their facilities had been closed by Governor Charles D. Baker Jr. as a part of quarantine. With Gov. Baker’s announcement that Massachusetts is entering Phase One of its reopening plan in the coming days, that problem should no longer exist, as the re-opening of athletic fields was included.
Post 188 baseball has helped numerous ballplayers over the years improve their skills and grab attention from college recruiters. Coach Tomasini said that continuing that aspect of the club’s mission is a big reason for the push to have summer ball.
“We want to make sure that at some point we can get (the players) on a field and that it is organized and at a high level,” he said. “It’s important to you guys as ballplayer, and for you as a people. I know we all miss it.”
As a surprise to the players who were able to attend the Zoom meeting, Tomasini invited Post 188’s most famous alumnus to speak to the players. Falmouth native and current Chicago White Sox relief pitcher Steve Cishek joined the teleconference from his home in Jupiter, Florida.
“Even now, some of my fondest memories of playing baseball are from playing with Post 188,” he told the young players. “That first year, we were so loaded, I barely sniffed the field. I think I pitched in just two games in my first season.”
Cishek, whose work ethic is a big reason that he has gone on to become the most successful professional athlete to hail from Cape Cod, said that attention to detail and enjoying “the process” of practicing and working toward the ultimate goal is something that all of the players should focus on.
“It’s tough to get up and throw into a net every day, but I do it,” he explained. “I’m 33 years old now and I’m always looking for a way to get better.”
He urged the ballplayers to “make good use of your time” while riding out quarantine.
Tomasini said that he hopes to have more news regarding a potential summer schedule in the coming weeks as the picture for what the season can be comes into better focus. He said that Post 188 also plans to have a fall ball team for the first time this year, and a college prospect squad, in order to help ballplayers get in repetitions that they lost this year with high school athletics being shut down for the winter. The post will also assist in creating recruiting profiles and videos for the players.
Post 188 will expand its rosters for both the senior and junior teams this summer in order to get as many players on the field as possible, and also to avoid burning out arms and bodies early on. Tomasini said that when the team finally gets back together that they are going to “treat it like it is March 19,” which was the day that spring sports would have begun their practices had it been a normal year.
An official start date is yet to be determined. Tomasini said that he hopes that the schedule will come together in the near future. “We’re figuring it all out, but I’m excited,” he said. “I can’t want to get them out on the field playing ball again.”