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John Habib's City Sports: Post 79 out, Jutras in for 2014 Legion baseball season
“They will not be able to participate in our league this summer. Post 79 will have to clean house before they can reinstate their program for the 2015 season,” said Rick Harvey, director of the state’s Junior Legion Baseball program.
“We don’t disagree with it,” Coldwell said of the edict to clean house. “We accept it and have already complied with everything we need to do to get reinstated.”
“I’ve been trying to get a face-to-face meeting with the Gary Webster since October, and he won’t give me one,” Coldwell said. “All I want to do is have an opportunity to explain our side. If they still want to suspend us, we’ll accept it. But at least I should have an opportunity to explain what we’ve done since November.
Coldwell said Post 79 has dismissed Al Jenkins as athletics director and Art Bernier as baseball coordinator. He said he’s also dismissed the entire coaching staff but added he’d like to reinstate Ed Poisson as head coach after Poisson served as an assistant the past two seasons.
“Unfortunately, Colleen is still not feeling well, and I came into this situation just after they suspended our post,” Coldwell said. “Now that I’m handling this, I just want to have a say in the matter with the state association.”
At issue was the violation of a national American Legion Baseball regulation limiting the total enrollment of the high schools from which a team draws its players to 5,000. The players on Post 79’s roster came from three Manchester schools — Manchester High School Central, Trinity High and the Derryfield School — with a combined enrollment of 5,178.
Harvey said the national committee also backed the state’s decision to suspend Post 79 for the 2014 season.
“We could have suspended them as far back as three seasons ago,” Harvey said. “They’ve had issues with personnel, coaching and getting their paperwork in on time.”
“We have to submit the rosters to (the national American Legion Baseball office) in a timely fashion, and once they’re submitted, those rosters are locked in and official,” he said. “As it turned out last season, Post 79 was playing with an illegal roster and ended up forfeiting their games.”
Because only seven players signed up last year, Jutras, which drew its roster solely from Manchester High West, couldn’t field a team. Now that Post 79 has been suspended, Harvey said, Jutras Post will be able to draw players from Central as well as West this summer.
“I’m not happy to see Post 79 get suspended, given their long history in Legion Baseball,” said Sweeney Post athletics director Paul Lemire. “Under the circumstances, the state association did the fair thing, giving us Memorial and Trinity. Our tryout numbers will be higher this year, somewhere between 20 and 25.” Don Parents, athletics director for Jutras Post, echoed Lemire’s thoughts about Post 79’s suspension.
“When Post 79 does come back, we plan on asking the state association to support our request of holding a citywide draft. That way all three Legion teams can exist,” said Parents. “The last thing we want in 2015 is to not have enough players to field a team. We want to play baseball as much as Post 79 and Sweeney do.”
“Even when Post 79 does get reinstated, I believe the state should still allow us to draw players from Trinity and Memorial,” Lemire said. “Giving Post 79 three high schools is not fair, in my opinion.”