Nebraska American Legion
P.O. Box 5205
Lincoln, NE 68505
We would like to build a history here of American
Legion Baseball in Nebraska. We welcome pictures,
stories, news clippings, programs, pennants - anything
related to American Legion Baseball in Nebraska. If
you have anything to contribute to this project, please
A dissertation on the subject:
From Americanism To Athleticism: A History of the
American Legion Junior Baseball Program
Kent M. Krause, Ph.D., 1998
Degree requirement, University of Nebraska
American Legion Baseball History
"In this city on July 17, 1925, by action of
the South Dakota Department of The American Legion, the
nationwide organization of Legion Junior Baseball was first
proposed as a program of service to the youth of America."
Those words are inscribed on a marble monument in the
community of Milbank, South Dakota as a reminder of the
beginning of this fine Americanism program. The
program's years of existence can be explained best by a
portion of that inscription: "A program of service to
the youth of America." Since it's beginning, millions
of young men have played American Legion Baseball.
American Legion Baseball became a national program by
convention action in 1925, and the first National Tournament
was held in 1926. Only 16 states were represented in
this first year of national operation. In 1928, Mr.
Dan Sowers, the Director of the National Americanism
Commission, appeared before the Executive Council of
Baseball in Chicago, which agreed to underwrite the national
program up to $50,000. With the exception of two
years, the Major Leagues have continually supported American
Legion Baseball. Major League Baseball continues to
make a financial contribution each year.
During the 1929 season, every state entered teams into
competition. 1931 marked the first appearance in
championship play of a player who was later to become a
big-league great. Kirby Higbe hurled a complete game
for Columbia, South Carolina, and lost the final game in the
14th inning, 1-0. Ten years later, he was the National
League's top pitcher.
1940 and 1941 marked the years that American Legion Baseball
became an established institution for American Youth.
During the war years, the program was restricted but
continued its service to our nation's youngsters. The
post-war years saw the continued growth of the program and
the nation's realization of the importance of this type of
activity for boys of all age groups.
In 1949, the selection of an American Legion Player of the
Year was originated. This arranged through the
cooperation of Mr. Robert Quinn, Director of the National
Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown, New York.
The 1960's saw the program grow stronger under the
leadership of George W. Rulon, Program Coordinator for
American Legion Baseball, who held that post from 1961 to
1987. Upon his retirement, the American Legion Player
of the Year Award was renamed the George W. Rulon Player of
the Year in honor of the late Program Coordinator.
The 1970's saw three more national awards established by the
National Americanism Commission. The Dr. Irvin L.
(Click) Cowger RBI Award, Rawlings Big Stick Award and the
Bob Feller pitching awards were established based on
player's statistics in Regional and World Series
In 1982, the National Americanism Commission adopted the
eight-site, eight-team, and double elimination Regional
Tournament format. Sixty-four of the best teams in the country began national
competition at the Regionals.
In 1998, The American Legion established a national baseball
scholarship. A $1,000 scholarship is awarded to each
participating Department. A total of $51,000 is
awarded annually to 51 outstanding American Legion Baseball
players based upon leadership, character, scholarship and
financial need. The Quaker Oats Company, makers of
Gatorade, annually contribute $10,000 towards scholarships
to help us honor Eight Regional Players of the Year as well
as The American Legion Player of the Year.
Over 98,000 players, ages 15-19, participated in 2005.
Since 1925, over 10 million young people have played
American Legion Baseball. Since 1985, over 1,900 new
teams have registered to play American Legion Baseball.
Local American Legion Posts also support and sponsor some
2,500 younger-age teams who are registered with Little
League, Babe Ruth, Pony, Dixie as well as many other youth
sports teams such as soccer, bowling, hockey, etc.
On an average, 55 percent of Major League Baseball players
played American Legion Baseball as teenagers. Nearly
75 percent of all college players played American Legion
Baseball as teenagers. Forty-six American Legion
Baseball graduates have been inducted into the Baseball Hall
of Fame in Cooperstown, New York.
Since 1926, Major League Baseball has honored The American
Legion World Series Champions at the Major League World
Series. The Commissioner's Office annually presents a
plaque to The American Legion Champions on the field at the
Major League World Series.
The history of American Legion Baseball has proven that
America's youth receive on the baseball diamond a thorough
understanding of the true value of sportsmanship, leadership
and individual character building. For nearly 81
years, America's largest veteran's organization, The
American Legion has sponsored a baseball program.
During these eight-decades, over 10 million players have
learned about teamwork, team loyalty, leadership and
sportsmanship. American Legion Baseball has been a
very organized and competitive baseball program.
The American Legion is the only amateur baseball program
that provides 100% expenses for meals, travel, and housing
for teams participating at the national tournaments.
The number of registered American Legion Baseball teams
continues to grow each year. This growth is due to the
fact that volunteers who run American Legion Baseball are
committed to providing an outstanding experience for all
those who wear an American Legion uniform. American
Legion Baseball is a "Winning Tradition."
Copyright 2008 - Nebraska American Legion Baseball -
All Rights Reserved