|Last season American Legion catcher prepars for a play at home plate.|
For more than 30 years Legion baseball has been going strong in Helper. This year a team from Price will also join the Legion family.
Coach Jeff Cisneros wants everyone to know that this does not mean that the Helper team is for Helper and the Price team for Price. Both teams will be open for boys from all over the area. The Helper team has traditionally pulled in participants from Carbon, Emery and Grand. This will not change.
Cisneros is in his 14th year of coaching the Helper squad and is looking forward to another successful season. Helper plays in the Salt Lake Valley League. They have been in the top three most of the last five years.
Cisneros has tried to be as inclusive as he can for all that tryout. Last year 18 players came to tryouts and 18 made the team. He welcomes the new team in town and hopes that it can be as successful as the Helper program has been.
But he knows that Legion ball is a huge commitment for the boys that come out. His team will play upwards of 40 games this summer. The cost to the boys is $150 or landing at least $250 dollars in sponsorship money. "That is the easiest way because all they have to do is convince one of the businesses to renew their advertising sign on the outfield wall and they are home free." He estimates it takes about $13,000 to fund the team each year. Travel and field maintenance eat up much of that budget.
Most of the players who come out for legion ball want to move their game to the next level. The coaching staff makes every effort to help the boys do that. It is a venue for the boys to be noticed by college recruiter and scouts. "As far as I'm concerned we have some of the best players in the region."
The Helper squad has also helped people sit up and take notice of our area. The ball field is one of the most scenic in the state and the talent has rivaled any team from the metro area.
Looking ahead to the season, some of the familiar names to expect to see on the diamond will be JD Sherman and Mark Zaccaria returning this season. Emery's Blake Mortensen and Carbon's Brandon Branch are looking to take the field this year as well.
The team will also host a tournament again this year. It will be held June 26-29th. Eleven teams will participate with at least five from out of state. They had to find some different dates than they had originally planned so as not to conflict with the Car Show scheduled in the Helper Park.
They kick off the season with an Alumni game on Friday June 6 at 7 p.m.. First home game of the season will be June 11th. Helper will play the Price team several time this season. The Price team must prove themselves and play a season as an independent team for at least a season until they may be accepted into the Salt Lake Valley league. "It's pretty common for any new team wanting to join the league," explained Cisneros.
For any and all players wanting to tryout for American Legion ball, the Helper try-outs will be Monday, May 19 and Tuesday May 20 at 7 p.m. in Helper. For anyone who doesn't make the cut in Helper or want a new direction,the Price try-outs will be Wednesday, May 21 and Thursday, May 22.
Both coaches are encouraging anyone who wants to play to come out and give themselves a chance at the try-outs.