First-Year College Players to Remain Eligible

First-year college players, as Jordy Thompson was in 2014, will remain eligible for Legion baseball.

First-year college students will remain eligible to participate in American Legion baseball as long as they meet the 19-and-under age requirements, according to national American Legion assistant director for baseball Steve Cloud.

A rule change, passed several years ago and geared to take effect in 2015, would have prohibited first-year college players from participating, restricting teams to high-school players.

In the case of the Eugene Challengers, for example, that would have prevented players such as Jalen Drath, Travis Boggs, Jordan Thompson, Dalton Pachano and Andy Arruda from playing during the past season.

However, Cloud said American Legion has decided to maintain the current policy of allowing first-year college players to participate, as long as they meet certain requirements — potentially, such as a requirement that the players appeared on an approved American Legion roster the previous year, rather than played travel ball, for example.  Those requirements will be finalized at American Legion’s national executive committee meeting Oct. 13-16.

Eugene Challengers board chairman Dale Hartley endorsed the decision to continue to allow first-year college players to participate.

“I think the first-year college player rule is critical for American Legion baseball and the Eugene Challengers from a competitive standpoint but more importantly it allows young men to come back to their hometowns and play one more season for their local American Legion team, for which some have played many years,” Hartley said.

“I also believe strongly that it is very important for our younger players to have the opportunity to play alongside and learn from those returning first-year college players because they have experience at the collegiate level and can bring to the team ability, leadership and direction for the younger players to learn from.

“I have seen over the years the benefit from having returning first-year college players and I am very happy to see this rule extended in American Legion baseball.”

Not changing, Cloud said, is the rule that the age requirement will be determined by birth year.  That means that a player turning 20 at any time in 2015 would not be eligible to play next season, even if his birthday falls after the completion of the season.