The stars were shining in full splendor on Saturday afternoon at Nida Field, as the first-ever Legion A Baseball All-Star Game took place in front of a packed crowd of visitors from across the state.
The game pitted the East All-Stars against the West All-Stars for nine innings of pure entertainment.
Players from different teams were able to mingle and cut up in the dugouts, laughing together and celebrating another successful Legion A season.
“I think one of the coolest parts was getting to see these guys get to know some of the players they’ve competed against all year,” East All-Stars manager Travis Mortimore said. “They get to know each other on a more personal level and start developing bonds.”
The game was an offensive slugfest from the start, with the teams combining for nearly 10 runs in just the first three innings.
Among the brightest of all the stars was Green River catcher Taylor Jensen, whose late home run gave the West All-Stars the lead for good. For his stellar play both at and behind the plate, Jensen was awarded the game’s MVP honors.
“I don’t even think he knew there was an MVP award,” Mortimore said, laughing. “To be honest, I don’t know if anyone did. We put a lot of this together on the fly. But it turned out to be a huge success.”
Douglas was represented by two players: Zack Virtue and Cameryn Spence.
Virtue played half the game at first base, while Spence played mainly in centerfield and even got an inning of work on the mound.
“It was great to see those guys get a chance to go out there and perform. And they deserved it. Those two have been some of my best all year long.”
Mortimore says several parents and players approached him after the game to thank him for his hand in putting on the event, an ordeal that included 40 of Legion A’s premier stars.
But that doesn’t mean he sees no room for improvement in years to come.
“There are a lot of things I’d probably like to do differently in the coming years. For one, I’d hope to be able to do more of an actual home run derby the night before the game. Maybe we pick four guys from the West and four guys from the East, and they go out and see who can hit the most out of the park. For these kids to be able to participate in something like that would be amazing. I want to give them those memories before their time is done playing the game.”
Another potential improvement on this year’s event? Mortimore hopes next year to invite college coaches from the region to attend. That way, he says, they can truly see the best talent the league can offer gathered in one place.
“To me, if I were a college coach, if I knew there was a game that showcased the best the state had to offer, I’d be there. It would give me a chance to watch every single one of them at the same time.”
But for now, Mortimore is happy with the turnout and success of the inaugural event. And judging by the smiles covering each and every player’s face before, during and after the game, it’s safe to say they were, too.