The wide ranging impacts of COVID-19 on the sports landscape continue to be felt. The American Legion baseball season has officially been canceled in Mississippi, in the sense that play will not be sanctioned by the organization. Mississippi baseball commissioner Mark Herrington announced the cancellation on Sunday, May 10. The national headquarters made the decision to call off the season nationwide due to liability issues associated with the virus.
However, despite their being no state tournament, regionals or World Series, teams in Mississippi can still play, just not under the banner of the American Legion.
“Teams can still be independent, buy insurance, and continue to play baseball this summer,” Herrington said. “But nothing they do will be affiliated with American Legion."
The Pontotoc Red Sox are getting ready for baseball this summer
"We are still planning on playing," said long-time head coach Nickey Browning. "I am just trying to get everything going and get a schedule together. I normally have a big bunch of games scheduled by now. We are going to Mt. Home 's tournament (in Arkansas). Tupelo is going to have a tournament, and we are trying to get hooked up with Tuscaloosa, Alabama. If those Arkansas teams play there is a possibility could play somewhere else. My problem right now is getting money, but we are going to play one way or another."
Browning said he still plans on having his annual tournament although with everything in flux he is not sure what all teams will be competing. The most likely time frame will be early June.
In 2019 the senior legion Red Sox went 19-4 and were the state runner-up; they have a number of veterans returning this summer as well.
The North Mississippi Indians are skippered by Pontotoc resident Scotty Kyle and always have a number of Pontotoc County kids on the roster. As of right now, the Indians will not field a senior team, but they are still planning on playing junior ball. Last summer the Indians' American Junior Legion team won the state championship. Kyle said a lot of the details are still up in the air.
"We will go to Columbia, Tennessee and play in Tupelo's tournament, and Nickey (Browning) is going to have one and we will play some games in it," Kyle said. "We will probably end up having to play in some of these showcase tournaments just to get ball games in. Kids are just wanting to play, because they missed almost their whole high school seasons.
"I have been getting more and more people calling me, and so I might end of having two teams. If I can get enough interest so I can split them up and have two competitive teams we might do that, if I can get someone to help me coach.
"I've got probably 10-12 kids just between North, South and Pontotoc. It will be even more of the Pontotoc kids this year than in years past."