Independent teams increasingly popular

To the editor:

I would like to provide clarification on some of the allegations brought forth by Post 22 about the Independent American Legion baseball program in Union, SC. Independent teams are growing in popularity and recognized all over the United States due to the lack of sponsorship by the American Legion Posts. Union American Legion is an Independent team sponsored by Ford’s Welding and Coach, Jay Ford. The Fords have been the coaches and sponsors for the American Legion Baseball program in Union County for the past 29 years, bringing much experience and proven dedication to the program. We are a team that is here for baseball, as shown by our dedication to American Legion baseball as well as our involvement and agreement with Dixie Youth baseball in Union County, to ensure that there will always be baseball for the youth in Union County. We do not stand for one individual Post, but for all veterans, all Legionnaires, and all citizens throughout Union County.

Post 22 speaks of tradition in their program, but their only recent tradition since 1985 was in 2016 when they decided to have their own team. For the last 25 years, the team has in most years been completely funded by Athletic Officer/Coach Tommy Ford. A goal of Ford’s is to keep baseball alive in Union County, give young men a chance to play a great game no matter who they are or where they come from, and create great men and citizens of our Country.

Our independent team is said to be a non-Legion team, but the truth is that it is run by Legionnaire members of the American Legion. Our team is recognized as the main American Legion team in Union County by the SC American Legion Baseball Committee, and supported by Legion Posts/members in Jonesville, Buffalo, Woodruff, Spartanburg, and throughout the state of SC, and is a very well respected program.

According to the Dean of USC Union, the Athletic Director of Union County High School, and the Manager of Timken Sports Complex, there has been no mutual agreements between Post 22 and these entities.

Some may ask why there are two different American Legion programs in Union. This is why: In 2013, Post 22 became a secondary sponsor of the Legion team in Union due to their lack of funding the team’s needs. However, Post 22 has been a secondary sponsor for most of the team’s existence. The former County Supervisor and current Post 22 Commander refused to let the team play or practice at Timken Sports Complex. The County Council overrode his decision and let us play and practice at Timken. Union American Legion has made it into 3 State tournament appearances and 6 playoff appearances since 2011. Tommy Ford’s ability to keep a program going in light of none/insufficient funding by Post 22 is why Union American Legion was awarded to be the main team in Union by the State American Legion Baseball Committee.

Yes, Post 22 does have a tradition of baseball in Union County, but for the last 29 years, the Post Baseball tradition has been kept alive by Tommy Ford, as he has paid for the team, made sure there was a team, and is the only reason Legion baseball is still in Union County. The Post itself would have never kept the team after Mr. Charlie Morrow retired as Athletic Officer. However, this is America’s past time and it takes a true passion to give up your time and money to change a young man’s life by playing a game.

American Legion baseball is the closest thing to college baseball that a young man can play, with 9 inning games and the best players in the State, including current college players. It is not necessary to play high school baseball to be eligible to play American Legion. The age limit is 13 -17 for the Junior team and 14-19 for the Senior team.

With this enlightenment, we would like to see all young men of Union County High School and Woodruff High School, present and future, come and play for our Independent Union American Legion Senior and Junior baseball teams. We are the proven and experienced team in Union County and are here to stay. Tryouts will begin in May.

Jay Ford

Union American Legion Baseball