ROACHDALE -- For North Putnam head baseball coach Norm Fish, quality baseball shouldn't have an inflated price tag. While players and parents alike dump money into expensive travel ball clubs, Fish believes there's a viable alternative -- American Legion baseball.
"The travel teams are so expensive," Fish said. "Sometimes they're $2,000 to $3,000 and some parents can't do it. This is a chance to play really high quality ball and it usually costs nothing.
"My incentive was some quality competition for my high school incoming upperclassmen to get them interested in summer baseball," Fish added. "And also, save money for the kids that want to play some high quality baseball that are going to the travel teams, I'm going to try to lure them back to legion ball to make it a lot easier on the parent financially."
Fish approached the Greencastle Legion, but ultimately received sponsorship from the Danville Post No. 118.
"Danville sponsored us this year," Fish commented. "Danville told me to wait and check with them (Greencastle) and I did, but they said if they weren't interested, they would love to do it. Hopefully I can get Greencastle on board next year. Maybe they can combine.
"I have kids from Danville, Speedway, Cascade, South Putnam and North Putnam," he added.
The league is a 19 and under league. If a player turns 20 years old at any time during the year, they are ineligible.
"If you've been in college one year, that's probably your last year in legion ball," Fish said. "There are a lot of college kids playing, like Terre Haute and Kokomo, they have a lot of kids playing college ball that are on their teams. It's good competition."
College aged athletes will not completely be excluded as Fish has slated a number of contests in which they can compete. Fish would like to get local athletes that have continued play in the collegiate level to make appearances with the Danville Irish.
"I've also added seven college games that Jake Mullis and Kyle Rooker are going to join our team to play some college level baseball," he said. "Also talking to Cody Nees, who is playing down at Franklin and see if he'll join us for some of these college games. Basically any local kid that's playing college ball, I'm going to try to get hold of and see if they want to play with us when we play these college teams."
Playing Legion ball isn't a leisurely summertime activity. Fish acknowledged that the team will play a 40-game season, half of which will be at North Putnam.
"It's a pretty active schedule," Fish said. "Like I said, we play three or four days a week, all June and July. It will be a lot of double-headers. In Indiana, that's just when the weather's getting good.
"This give the guys that like playing to continue and play another, actually, a bigger schedule than their high school season was. And better competition. It's basically like playing a lot of All-Conference teams all summer," he added.
Fish is hoping a good word of mouth translates into higher numbers next season. A goal he spoke of was having 30 kids trying out for the team. He hopes to also get additional funding next season so the squad can participate in more tournaments.
"It's a lot of fun. It's going all right so far. Hopefully it's something we can get rolling here," Fish said.