Clovis to Host its First-ever American Legion Baseball Championships

American Legion is hosting its California state championship baseball tournament in Clovis for the first time in 96 years.

After winning the championship in each of their respective areas, six teams will compete for the state title from July 24-27 at Buchanan High School. The teams include the Petaluma Leghorns, Oceanside Vipers, Atwater/Merced Yammers, Long Beach Bruins, Napa Valley Baseball Club, and the Patrick Henry High School Trojans.

Games will be played at 9 a.m., 12 p.m., and 3 p.m. every day in the double-elimination style bracket. The championship game is scheduled for July 27 at 9 a.m.

Prior to the tournament’s start, a welcome dinner will be held for the six teams Friday evening at the Clovis Veterans Memorial District. The history of the tournament will be at the dinner — the 1960 American Legion state champions, a Central Valley team consisting mostly of Fresno High School players, are expected to make an appearance. It will be closed to the public.

The full history of the American Legion, however, goes back to 1919, when the veterans’ organization was founded in the wake of World War I. The American Legion has advocated for veterans across all 55 of its departments, with one in every state.

American Legion Baseball was created in 1925 and ever since, an annual statewide tournament has been played in California. According to the state tournament director Ray Flores, the 2021 edition will be the first held in a major metropolitan area in four decades.

Lorenzo Rios, CEO of the tournament sponsor Clovis Veterans Memorial District, said he hopes that hosting the event in Clovis “brings awareness of American Legion as a great partner.”

“There’s a lot of folks who are not familiar with American Legion baseball,” Rios said. “A lot of times, players will sign up to be a part of what they know and won’t risk being a part of something that they haven’t been a part of or don’t know about.”

American Legion players, who range from ages 13 to 19, do not pay to play. Local American Legion posts cover the costs of travel, uniforms and other expenses, as long as players commit to the Code of Conduct.

“This is how you see our local veterans reaching out and helping the next generation step up and stay healthy, be active and develop some great character skills, from good work ethic to discipline to teamwork and collaboration,” Rios said.

Tickets for the tournament can be purchased at www.caamericanlegionbaseball.org.

Gabriel Camarillo
Gabriel Camarillo has written for the Clovis Roundup since August 2019 and follows high school athletics, Fresno State football and former Clovis Unified student-athletes. Gabe also writes for The Collegian as a staff sports writer and works at One Putt Broadcasting as a board op for 940 ESPN radio.