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Roger Brown's State of Sports: No baseball for Post 79 in 2018

December 26. 2017 1:12AM

“It wasn't going to cost the post a dime,” Post 79 manager Ernie Yerrington said. “If it’s not about money, what is it about?”

Yerrington was referring to Manchester Post 79’s recent decision to not support a senior American Legion baseball team this summer. Yerrington said he was blindsided by the news, especially since the team planned to fund itself through registration fees and fundraising. He estimated the budget to be somewhere in the neighborhood of $5,000 to $6,000.

“I met with Russ (Post 79 team administrator Russ Spaulding) in November,” Yerrington explained. “I told him that we planned to fund the team entirely. Post 79 absorbed most of the budget last year, but we were certainly not going to have the post have the burden of any expenses moving forward. He said, ’Ernie, I have some bad news. The post has voted baseball down. I don’t understand it.’ He sat there in disbelief.

“I told him we have five or six kids who opted not to do travel (baseball) this year because they wanted to devote their full attention to 79. What’s going to happen to those kids? He said, ’It looks like it’s a dead issue.’”

Post 79 has a rich baseball history. The 79ers have won 13 state titles, with the most recent championship coming in 1995. Post 79 made the news for the wrong reasons in recent years, however.

Post 79 was forced to forfeit all of the games it played during the 2013 season because it was determined the program violated eligibility rules. Post 79 did not have a team for the 2014, 2015 and 2016 seasons, but was reinstated last year. Yerrington and coach Chris Schneider, a former Post 79 player, guided the team to a 6-9 record last season.

The New Hampshire American Legion baseball committee offered Post 79 a chance to sponsor a junior team before the 2015 season, but officials at Post 79 passed on the offer.

According to Yerrington, Post 79 held a second vote regarding the possibility of sponsoring a senior team in 2018. He had hoped to speak with Post 79 officials before the vote, but said he was not given that opportunity. Rick Harvey, chairman of the American Legion baseball committee, said the vote was 4-3 against having a team.

Yerrington said neither he nor Spaulding have been given a reason why Post 79 doesn’t want to sponsor a team.

“I wanted an audience (before the vote) because I felt that once they heard us they wouldn’t want to do anything other than have baseball, Yerrington said. “I would like to think they knew that money wasn’t going to be an issue because Russ told me he told them. I know they didn’t hear it from me because I never had the chance to speak to them. My assumption is they didn’t give (Spaulding) a justifiable reason other than they just don’t want it. We had no altercations with any umpires. No altercations with any players or parents. We had a good attendance rate … We were very successful last year after no having a team for three years.”

Harvey is clearly not happy with Post 79’s decision. Without Post 79, there are 17 senior teams, nine in one district and eight in the other. A balanced 18-team league with nine teams in each district would have made scheduling less cumbersome.

“I’m pretty upset about this,” Harvey said. “They had their issues, but they worked them out. I thought they were ready to keep moving forward.”

Assuming it wouldn’t be a significant financial burden, there has been some talk that Manchester’s Jutras Post could save the day by sponsoring what would have been the Post 79 team this summer. Jutras currently sponsors a junior legion team, but has no team in the senior division.

Last summer’s Post 79 roster featured 12 players from Manchester Central High School, four from Goffstown and two from Derryfield. Post 79 can also draw from Manchester High School West.

Yerrington said most of the players on last year’s roster are eligible to return, and that he expected close to 30 players at tryouts.

We have a full team,” he said. “We’re ready to go.”

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