Skip to main content

Sent: Thursday, July 23, 2009 1:13 PM
To: *******************
Cc: 'Jeff Pinkman';
Subject: Another serious reason WHY American Legion needs to expand rosters to 20 or 22

To many VA American Legion Coaches, the 51 State baseball chairmen, the Nat’l Legion program coordinator and I have BCC’d my college coaches e-mail list and the Pinkman folks …

Just wanted to share …

I do not believe the State and Nat’l officials understand the potential consequences what they did with moving up the State, Reg’l and World Series American Legion Tournaments. I do understand it was done with the intention to allow the teams to have their full-fledged rosters intact without losing players to the start of the football season and/or young men starting off to college. BUT what this change has done … I believe, has created another serious problem. This change has shortened the American Legion regular season which means more games in a shorter period of time which has created an even heavier burden on the pitchers. This is a another reason WHY American Legion baseball needs to seriously look at expanding the rosters to 20 or 22 men which give each team an opportunity to carry more pitchers or the end result will be more surgeries for young men before they enter their college careers. I made this suggestion to expand the roster a few years back but some individuals were quick to point out the increase cost factor which led to me creating a brief proposal to eliminate the cost factor in August of 2008.

Bottom line, not sure what the correct solution is, but this needs to be reviewed for the betterment of American Legion Baseball and the well being of the young men toeing the pitching rubber.

Respectfully shared as a concerned former player/coach of ALB,
Winchester, VA

Colleges, showcases influence pitchers to skip American Legion

Contact Michael Phillips at (804) 649-6546 or

Published: July 12, 2009

Senior Cyrus Baird of Hermitage is one of many players called on to pitch for Glen Allen Post 244, which struggles to find enough pitchers to throw nine innings in as many as five games a week.
Summer is associated with baseball, and for the area's best high school players, it means American Legion baseball, a decades-old institution. But during the past few years, what has previously been the most competitive game in town has lost some of its edge.

The best pitchers are skipping the Legion season in increasing numbers.

Some prefer showcase teams that promise exposure to college recruiters. Others are advised by college coaches not to throw, to prevent injury to their arms.

"Legion ball is down this year, for sure," Glen Allen Post 244 coach Rossie Dodson said.
With that decline comes increasing pressure on coaches, who must find enough pitchers to throw nine innings in as many as five games a week.
That pressure in turn affects college coaches, who prefer to coach players with fully-functioning arms.
"It's getting worse and worse," Virginia Tech coach Pete Hughes said. "We see ridiculous pitch counts, and kids throwing on short rest. Knowing his best years are still ahead of him, it's dangerous."
It can even lead to major surgery -- as it did four years ago for a Midlothian pitcher.

Douglas Freeman High pitcher Patrick Scoggin got a booklet from the Virginia Tech training staff, detailing what he should do during the summer to keep his body in shape.

The list includes running, conditioning work and the occasional round of long-toss. It does not include competitive baseball.

"I always want to play baseball, and of course I miss it, but this is what I worked towards," Scoggin said. "I'm excited to start playing college baseball."

He won't have to wait long. Like most programs, the Hokies play fall ball -- getting a jump start on practice before the cold weather of winter sets in.
"There's no offseason anymore," Hughes said. "We build in downtime during the summer because we try to get rolling when they come back."

Once players are recruited to a college, the team's staff starts to keep an eye on their pitch counts -- the number of pitches that are thrown during an appearance.

Glen Allen pitcher Ryan West plays college ball at Louisburg (N.C.). His coaches allowed him to play Legion ball but put him on a pitch count of 40-45 pitches during his appearances, a number Dodson and his staff track.

That number allows him to throw for two or three innings, just a fraction of a nine-inning game.
"Even if you're throwing a full 90 pitches, you're only getting 6 or 7 innings, tops," Lakeside coach Ted Paul said. "You've still got to fill the other three."

For underclassmen trying to get noticed by colleges, the path increasingly takes them to summer "showcase" games, where the best players travel to multiday tournaments around the country.
Benedictine's Kevin Buran, after considering the options, chose to play Legion baseball for Lakeside.
"I was going to play for another team, but it was a lot of money -- and this is easier. I don't have to travel," he said.

Buran committed to Maryland after his junior season. The coaches there encouraged him to play summer baseball but to keep his pitch counts in check. He plays as an outfielder most nights at Lakeside.

"If you're good, they'll find you," Paul said of the college scouts. "If they found you in 1940, they'll find you today."

The American Legion season tries to cram a summer's worth of baseball into a few weeks. The result is four or five nights of baseball each week, and possibly more if a team reaches the postseason.

South Richmond's team made the American Legion World Series last year, resulting in a frantic three weeks of games at the state, regional and national level. Virginia Tech pitcher Ronnie Shaban contributed only sparingly on the mound, as he was recovering from an arm injury. He said that coach Byron Ballard did a great job of juggling pitchers to ensure that everybody's arm was kept fresh.

By the end of the tournament, players who hadn't pitched all season were being called on to help out in a pinch.

It wasn't the best competitive strategy, but it kept the players healthy. The most prominent area injury happened to Midlothian pitcher Matt Edwards, who left a game in agony during the 2006 Legion World Series.

He needed Tommy John surgery -- ligament replacement in the elbow -- and is just recovering to the point where he can throw multiple innings.

Coaches and players interviewed for this article were unanimous in their support of shortening the games to seven innings -- the standard high school length. That decision, however, would have to be made at a national level.

Tech's Hughes urges coaches to keep the games in perspective and not jeopardize a kid's future.
"We've all got a little competitiveness in this game, but to throw excess pitches in a short time to win a title is dangerous," he said. "It really hurts a kid if you get a coach that doesn't know what he's doing."

It's a dilemma that is unlikely to be solved anytime soon, but the trend toward year-round play at colleges, and the rise of showcase games, could have unfortunate effects for the quality of Legion ball in the area.

Perhaps the best position to be in is a player. They'll take the field this afternoon, put the debate aside for a few hours, and just play baseball.

-----Original Message-----
From: []
Sent: Tuesday, December 02, 2008 3:13 AM
Subject: John Pinkman's opinion on my Nat'l Proposal to increase Rosters to 20 OR 22 men

FYI … just wanted share John Pinkman’s opinion about my proposed rule change to increase the roster limit from 18 to at least 20 if not 22 men.

Mr. Pinkman also writes for Collegiate Baseball Magazine and is very well know in both the College and Professional ranks.

Respectfully shared,
JEFF MILBURN (a concerned coach)
Winchester, VA 22601
571.933.3602 (home)

-----Original Message-----
From: John Pinkman []
Sent: Tuesday, September 02, 2008 11:07 AM
Cc: **********
Subject: RE: Nat'l Proposal to increase Rosters to 20 OR 22 men

I completely agree with the proposal to expand the Legion Rosters to include more players. But not for the monetary reason alone. I left the coaching ranks of Legion ball many years ago in frustration over the following points.

Quality of play should always supersede the quantity of play. The minimum roster always left teams searching, specifically for pitchers at the end of the week. As a professional pitching instructor I was concerned with the overuse of tired arms in the summer, especially with the lack of a time commitment made by both players and coaches to in-season (summer) conditioning. Further the volleyball approach of “rotate to serve” style of pitching rotation late in the week reduced the competitive level of play, to not much more than a HS gym class. Not to mention serious damage to position players arms who are not conditioned for that endurance throwing. Teams should also expect a number of players to miss some games due to college visits and valid collegiate exposure camps (which in the past Legion failed to do).

The abundance of travel teams are also placing a serious financial burden and family fatigue on both the players and their parents. Many are merely “sold” a uniform. Many of those players are unnecessarily delusional about their competitive ability to play college baseball at any level. When in reality there are so many more potential student athletes prepared to compete at the college level. But it has become a task similar to herding cats. I’m sure that most all of the college coaches listed in this email, are equally exhausted from the diluted array of the ever expanding recruiting tournaments.

I realize that Legion programs have different challenges in various locations. The reduction in the sponsoring American Legion Posts and their aging membership is also a contributing factor.

In northern Virginia quality coaching will always pursue quality program management. Frustrations of political or inept program management are significant reasons for the creation of independent teams. The lack of quality Legion teams, have in the past forced college recruiters to follow the talent to other competitions. Your alternative is very timely.

Coaching a team should not be a right of passage or given the most available volunteer. It should be earned on the basis on teaching ability - not monitoring ability. Quality is not always convenient and often disturbs the status quo. The Legion program, as you have noted, must make changes in their programming to accommodate current athletic realties or stagnate as many national programs recently have. In any case, Legion programs must re-evaluate their competitive mission and clearly and consistently communicate whatever they decide to the public.


John Pinkman

Pinkman Baseball Academies
703.440.8824 Springfield
703.661.8586 Dulles
703.476.5414 Home
703.725.3873 Cell
Last edited {1}
Original Post

Replies sorted oldest to newest

-----Original Message-----
From: John Pinkman []
Sent: Thursday, July 23, 2009 2:22 PM
To: **************
Cc: 'Jeff Pinkman'
Subject: RE: Another serious reason WHY American Legion needs to expand rosters to 20 or 22


It is hard to believe that American Legion apparently still ignores this issue. Reality catches up with everyone—sooner or later. For me as I have stated many times, it was earlier. In 1995 it became clear to me that Legion was entrenched in what was. Weekend games (entering the early 30’s in innings) became “who’s turn is it to pitch; much like rotating for your serve in volleyball.” Competition became laughable as 2nd basemen who never considered pitching were forced to take the mound, because of the lack of available pitchers.

Players fly in to our Academy from all parts of the country to get their sore arms analyzed. They are getting younger and younger and the injuries are no longer limited to the medial elbow but now extend to the shoulder. As you know we have many medical contacts, they all report the same experiences.

Legion in many areas is now a developmental program for JV players. I do realize that there are differences in regional markets. But as the director of a program that has sent over 150 players on to college ball, I clearly see the realities and options players have. In my letter to you last year I said as I did 10 years ago Legion must reinvent themselves and stay current with the players market of today. But, I don’t think for a minute Legion gets it.

And now you see can easily see what is happening. If they started today to change it would take 4 years and a lot of PR to catch up to a contemporary image.

We have a saying at our Academy….. It’s not about Our past… it’s all about the players future. In the long run, that is the customer we serve.

703.476.5414 H
703.725.3873 C
Last edited by MILBY
Just wanted to share that a few coaches have stated that if ALB follows MLB rules, then it should be a 25-man roster.

As I stated, not sure what the ROSTER size should be, BUT I do know it must be more than a 18-man roster OR legion baseball will continue loosing the race with other leauges and travel baseball.

Respectfully shared.
South Carolina Legion allows a 20-man roster up to the state playoffs when it is reduced back to 18. Having just spent my first year as a legion general manager, I agree that some combination of roster expansion, shortening the games to 7 innings, and possibly even use of wood bats should be instituted. Also, some of the better legion teams in our area play additional non-league games during the season which only worsens the situation with regards to pitching.
Lets face it fellows, winning games and playoff games are more important than a young players welfare and has been for as long as we all can remember, and coaches and parents are the main reasons for this dilima, several seasons ago a young 12 yr. old pitcher was allowed to throw 102 balls in 6 innings, who was responsible for this total lack of respect for his physical welfare? his selfish coach and and his thoughtless parents, another young player at a high school at the south end of Fort Worth who had the Cubs and other MLB teams sitting on his games for"3"yrs. signed with the Cubs, went to the rookie league and went home after"2"weeks with a dead arm from entirely too much pitching, he also left spring training the following season with a dead arm, again who was responsible? again his selfish coach and his thoughtless winning minded parents it just goes on and on, Parents need to wake up and take charge of their youngsters overall well being. and that there are very few people in all age groups and levels who can actually teach their players the necessary individual and team fundamentals they need to learn,
we have entirely too many chronic sore arms and surgeries within all age groups and levels from the major league level on down to as young as 13yrs old due to the facts mentioned above and also the lack of experienced,knowledgeable and competent teachers, not coaches,"TEACHERS" who are few and far between, who can teach how to properly use their whole body from the ground up to deliver the baseball to their intended target which alleviates the enormous abuse and tension that the unnatural act of throwing a baseball creates, there is a significant difference between a coach and an experienced,knowledgeable and competent pitching and/or hitting "TEACHER"who is a keen student of baseball and has devoted many long hours to learning how to become a teacher of the game of baseball,"TEACHING"is the first and foremost aspect of the two. the general individual and team fundamentals are also suffering tremendously,I watch game after game here from the college level on down and the individual and team fundamentals are simply horrible, like I always say,"ALL PLAY,"NO" TEACHING AND "NO" PRACTICE MAKES FOR INFERIOR PLAYERS AND INFERIOR TEAM PLAY" I like your wood bat suggestion "VS" from South Carolina, Good luck, Jeff Milburn John Pinkman Michael Phillips and the rest of you who are attempting to solve those serious problems band together and keep throwing those good suggestions at them and one day they will listen.
Sitting here watching the little leageurs and the Aflac East West all star game keeps my mind refreshed to the fact of the need of experienced, knowledgeable and competent "PITCHING AND HITTING COACHES" Bryce Harper just struck out for the third time.
Again good luck with getting some constructive changes made for the betterment of your players.
Don Ervin.

Add Reply

Link copied to your clipboard.