Updated 08/01/2012 06:35 AM
Legion State Baseball Tournament a hit in Utica
The American Legion Baseball State Championship is being hosted in Utica this week for the first time ever. It's part of a deal that could make the area the tournament's permanent home. Our Andrew Sorensen tells us how the local Legion is stepping up to the plate to make the championship a success.
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UTICA, N.Y. -- Eight American Legion Baseball teams from around the state kicked off the State Championship tournament Tuesday night. Each has worked hard all season to claim the title, but Utica's Adrean Post have been sweating more than their baseball skills to get here.
"This has been all the work for our team, getting everything set up for the other teams to have a great experience. But from what we've seen it should be a great tournament," Adrean Post player John Sadellah said.
This is the first year Utica has hosted the tournament, and with a potential permanent contract on the line, there's a lot of pressure for Adrean Post Commander Mike Macchione to get it right.
"What's also special about this is that these young men are not just playing for the New York State Championship. This is just one leg of four that it takes for them to get to the World Series," he said.
And the four day event is not just about baseball.
"We just feel that we should give back because not everyone is as privileged as us to be playing in this tournament. And that just feels like our duty to give back to the community," Sadellah said.
Before opening ceremonies Tuesday, representatives from each of the teams like Chris Nicotera collected autographs from veterans at St. Luke's Home.
"We feel the real hero here is the veteran and we also think that it's a thrill for them to be asked, but I think it's also meaningful for our young players to ask them knowing fully well what they've sacrificed," Macchione explained.
"I think it was very valuable... just listening to all the information they had and all the types (sic) that they went through," said Nicotera.
They plan to feed nearly 500 veterans and their families over the course of the tournament. Tuesday's conversations left the players excited to do and learn more.
"This one guy, he played baseball for Cortland State, he was a first baseman. He was telling me how when he was there, he was the only right-handed player on the team, and now today, you don't see lefties out there," Sadellah said.
Adrean Post hopes to prove themselves worthy of being named the tournament's permanent home.
But for now this year, the only thing left to do is to play ball.
You can see more about the tournament on the Legion's website.