The first solely Cleveland Legion baseball team has begun play in a league with Tri-City United, Le Sueur-Henderson, Sibley East and Waterville-Elysian-Morristown.
Cleveland had never had its own Legion baseball team for 10th- through 12th-graders (19 and under), although it was paired with Le Center in the past in Legion, majors and Babe Ruth ball. In recent years, Cleveland has had a minor league team for younger players up to high school.
Cleveland planned to form a Legion baseball team last summer, but the idea was wiped out by the COVID-19 pandemic virus which limited youth sports.
Cleveland Manager Alex Rogers, who is also an assistant coach with the high school team and a former player, said the Legion team was formed because, "We started seeing the potential we have with the high school team, and we want to build the program up and the older guys can get in some more games with a team playing baseball in the summer. This is a big step up. Bringing Legion baseball back is a huge accomplishment."
Cleveland debuted June 8 at Bruce Frank Field in Le Sueur by getting swept in a doubleheader against Le Sueur-Henderson 16-6 and 16-3 with both games going five innings.
However, Rogers said it's good to get good competition from teams like LS-H. "Le Sueur is a good team. They have good players like us."
The first Cleveland home games are scheduled back-to-back at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, June 22 against Cannon Falls and 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, June 23 versus WEM, although Cleveland will be close to home at 7:30 p.m. Monday, June 21 against Tri-City United at Ray Plut Field in Le Center.
The team is sponsored by Cleveland Legion Post 207 which organized a bingo night fundraiser to help with the team.
"They helped get us going by volunteering with the bingo and getting new uniforms," Rogers said. "It means a lot for them to step up for the team and the community as a whole. They've been a big help for us."