Lewiston's American Legion (Lewis-Clark Post 13) baseball team has won thirty-eight Idaho state championships.
In 1940 four teams from Spokane competed – Lewis and Clark, North Central, Rogers and Gonzaga High School. The Valley had two schools – West Valley and Central Valley. The Valley had three players who played with Gonzaga and were coached by Bill Frazier.
Way back in 1939? Oh yeah, we played American Legion baseball in 1939. I was a member of the Washington state champion Sunnyside Junior Legion baseball team.
In the summer of 1939, the Idaho State American Legion baseball tournament was held in Boise. Lewiston was in that tournament and I was on the Lewiston team.
The American Legion World Series in Spokane brings back memories of a 21-inning game in July 1951 between Kellogg and Bonners Ferry. I pitched all 21 innings for Kellogg and lost, 6-4.
Being members of the 1955 Rogers High School American Legion baseball team was such a special privilege with outstanding memories. Jim Forsyth, Rogers’ baseball coach, was also our American Legion coach.
The year was 1966. I was playing Legion ball for Bonners Ferry as a seventh- grader because we did not have enough players. I was hanging around practice, knowing my day would come because of our shortage of players. Sure enough, we headed to Creston, British Columbia. In Creston at that time, you could play Legion until you were 19 or 20. We were facing Creston’s ace, Russ Nichols. So here I am batting against Nichols as a seventh-grader and he was 19.
I moved to Spokane in 1984, after growing up in the Yakima area. From the mid 1970’s through the summer of 1984 one of my favorite things to do in the summer was to go to Parker Field and watch the Yakima Beetles American Legion Baseball team. A couple of co-workers and I would attend 35 to 40 games a year, along with 800 to 1,000 other fans. The Beetles hosted several state and regional championships during that span, and the quality of play was outstanding.
In 1955 the Sitka, Alaska, American Legion team won the Territorial playoffs. The tournament was played in Anchorage in early August. Alaska was, at the time, still a territory.
American Legion Baseball was a special part of my childhood. After losing his right arm during World War II, my Dad, Bob Chilton, turned his baseball prowess into umpiring Legion baseball.