By Loretta Cozart
In April, the head of the nation’s largest veterans’ organization announced that The American Legion World Series will be played in Shelby, N.C., August 12-17. The eight-team championship tournament is returning after the premier baseball event was cancelled in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic. 2021 marks the events 10th year in Shelby.
American Legion National Commander James W. “Bill” Oxford said “As a former American Legion Baseball coach, I am extremely excited about the return of this fantastic event. With the availability of vaccines and additional data showing that young people participating in outdoor activities represent a low risk for spread of the virus, we feel that we can conduct a safe world series. This is a very different environment than what we faced last year. Many of us eagerly await the umpire’s welcoming words of ‘play ball!’”
Events for the six-day event include:
• Thursday, August 12, Opening Day: Senior Citizens, 55 and older, are admitted free. Cleveland County City Council on Aging will place large containers at the main gate to collect non-perishable food and hygiene items for the pantry at the Neal Senior Center. 6:30 pm – Parade of Champions.
• Friday, August 13, Salute to Academic Achievement Day: JROTC Unit of Blackman High School of Murfreesboro, Tennessee, under the instruction of retired Col. Jeffrey Gaylord, will post the colors for all games on Friday and Saturday.
• Saturday, August 14, USAA Military Appreciation Day, 3:30 pm: Ceremony to honor Mitch Harris, Mt. Holly native, U.S. Naval Academy graduate, Navy veteran, former Legion baseball and MLB player, and Lt. Col. Brad H., a Shelby native, former Legion player, who is currently active Army with U.S. Special Operations Command.
• Sunday, August 15, Atrium Health Salute to Healthy Living Day, 10:00 am: Worship Service lead by Pleasant City Church, 3:15 pm: Presentation to J.J. Guinozzo, celebrating 50-years as the scoring czar for the ALWS, 3:40 pm: Autograph session in the McIntosh Law Firm Hospitality Tent with Mitch Harris; Buddy Green who recommended Harris to the U.S. Naval Academy; Kermit Smith, Appalachian State University head baseball coach and Harris’ Legion coach; and J.J. Guinozzo.
• Monday, August 16, Youth Athletic Day, 5:45 pm: Recognition on the field of two North Carolina ALWS Champions: Shelby Post 82 (1945) and Charlotte Post 9 (1965). Members of both teams have been invited to attend.
• Tuesday, August 17, Championship Tuesday: Seven-time NASCAR Champion and current NTT driver Jimmy Johnson will throw out the first pitch. Miss Gastonia 2020 Julie DeSerio will sing the National Anthem. Skydive Carolina parachutists will deliver the game ball. Fireworks after the game.
The American Legion will observe Center for Disease Control guidelines and local and state public health mandates for all its national programs.
The American Legion is the largest veterans service organization with nearly 2 million members in more than 12,000 posts across the nation. Chartered by Congress in 1919, The American Legion is committed to mentoring youth and sponsoring wholesome community programs, advocating patriotism and honor, promoting a strong national security and continued devotion to servicemembers and veterans.
General Admission, Adult Day Passes tickets, and Student Day Pass tickets remain available. Box Seats, Reserved Seats, and Rocking Chair Seats have sold out. Tickets can be bought online at: https://americanlegionworldseries.com/tickets/baseball/buy-baseball-tickets/