Woodland Park baseball manager Cliff Richardson and his Mudville Nine wish the results from last week’s American Legion “B” state tournament were a little different. Hoisting the championship trophy would have been nice, but the fact that they continue to improve is reason to be excited.
“We’re absolutely looking toward the future,” Richardson said. “If you count last year’s legion state tournament, and the high school state playoffs in the spring, we’ve made the postseason three straight times. And we’re showing improvement each time.”
Woodland Park was the No. 5 seed and went 1-2 in this year’s double-elimination state tournament that was played at Meadow Wood Park. It defeated No. 4 Fort Morgan, 12-4, on July 25. Woodland Park was eliminated after consecutive losses to Liberty, 11-2 on July 26, and Kennedy, 10-8 on July 27.
Woodland Park went winless in the 2012 legion state tournament.
“This is a great tournament,” said Richardson, whose team went 11-7 this summer. “We get to see teams we don’t normally see. There was a lot of quality competition.”
The eight-team tournament was organized and run by tournament chairman Dave Turley, who also doubles as Woodland Park’s mayor. Richardson was his No. 1 assistant and go-to guy.
Members from the Woodland Park American Legion Post 1980 helped with ticket and concession sales, as well as organizing the event. Other local people volunteered their time to work on the field before, during and after games.
“The level of play was amazing,” Turley said. “Just great games all around. This has been an amazing tournament with great skills and sportsmanship displayed by everyone.”
Liberty won the tournament on July 28 with a dramatic 10-9, eight-inning victory over Mead. Regulation games were seven innings.
The festivities kicked off July 24 with a pre-tournament coach/umpire banquet July 24 at the Swiss Chalet restaurant in Woodland Park. It included a salad, Asian beef skewers and wild rice.
The dinner was supported by Neil Levy, owner of the Swiss Chalet. Levy’s son, Sam, plays on the Woodland Park American Legion “D” seventh and eighth grade team. His older son, Max, was a team captain and top player on last year’s Woodland Park baseball team.
Opening ceremonies were just prior to the July 25 first game between Woodland Park and Fort Morgan.
“It was nice getting underclassmen involved at the varsity level,” said Woodland Park senior catcher Logan Watters, the team’s top hitter. “That will definitely help us out during the regular season.”
American Legion baseball started in 1925 and is the oldest, and most respected, nationwide baseball program. Each year, nearly 5,400 teams with 100,000 young men participate in American Legion Baseball through American Legion Post sponsorship in all 50 states and Puerto Rico.
Since its inception, the league has had 10 million players, and nearly 60 percent of current college players are program graduates.
In all, more than 60 program graduates are in the Baseball Hall of Fame. They include Yogi Berra, who played for Fred W. Stockholm Post 245 in St. Louis, Ted Williams, who suited up for a post in San Diego, and Frank Robinson, who played for an Oakland post.
Current New York Yankees slugger Mark Teixeira played in the league’s 1997 World Series. Other prominent players include Bob Feller, Ryne Sandberg, Roy Campanella, Dusty Baker, Albert Pujols, Greg Maddux and Chipper Jones.
Babe Ruth spent the final years of his life promoting the program as its director of operations.