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Legion World Series opens Friday

Eight teams vie at Avista Stadium

As with most American Legion baseball teams, Chesapeake, Va., goes by its Post name, in this case 280 Greenbrier, rather than a mascot.

However, the team has suggested it could be called the Bulls.

Post 280 Greenbrier lost the first game of the Virginia state tournament then had to win six games in four days, five of those victories eliminating another team.

Coach Larry Bowles said four of the five teams Chesapeake knocked out wore red uniforms.

Then in the Mid-Atlantic Regional championship game on Monday, Post 280 faced traditional power Brooklawn, N.J., another team that wears red. Chesapeake won 6-2.

“The guys said you can call us bulls because when we see red we knock it out,” Bowles said.

Northwest history

The World Series has been in Washington three other times, all in Yakima (1954, 1978 and 2001).

Washington teams have won the Northwest Regional 14 times to advance to the World Series. They are Bellingham (2007), Bellevue (1981, 1995), Kennewick (1999, 2004), Pasco (2005, 2008) Vancouver (1987, 1996) and Yakima (1953, 1975, 1976, 1979, 1988).

Yakima won the title in ’54, ’75 and ’79. Kennewick and Pasco lost in the title game in both of their appearances, with Vancouver losing in ’87 and Bellevue in ’95.

Lewiston has represented Idaho five times, the first in 1964, the last in 2001, losing in the title game in 2001 in Yakima.

Pocatello was in the first tournament in 1926, losing to Yonkers, N.Y., 23-6 in the title game in Philadelphia.

Successful debut

Rich Balzano became coach of Branford, Conn., Post 83 in 2005, taking the team to the World Series.

The team returned in 2007 and is back for a third time in six seasons.

“The bottom line is you have to have good players,” Balzano said. “We’ve had a good run of players.”

That includes current Spokane Indian Mike Olt, who was named to the All-Tournament team as a shortstop. Olt, now playing third base, was hitting .267 with five home runs and 24 RBIs in 46 games through Monday.

The Real(muto) deal

The Oklahoma Outlaws of Midwest City, Okla., had just wrapped up a berth in the American Legion World Series when they got word that one of their top players wouldn’t be joining them in Spokane.

J.T. Realmuto, who was drafted in the third round (104th overall) by the Florida Marlins in the June amateur draft, signed late Monday night. The deal, which will include a paid college education if pro baseball doesn’t work out, is reportedly worth more than $700,000.

Realmuto will report to the Marlins’ rookie-level Gulf Coast League team in Jupiter, Fla., later this week. He had signed a letter of intent to play at Oklahoma State University.

He was named the most valuable player in the regional tournament.

“They had been quite a ways apart in negotiations,” Outlaws coach Doug Weese said. “Then they came in (Monday) and offered him more than what he told them he wanted with his education paid for. It’s a bittersweet deal for him after what we accomplished.”

Realmuto was named the national player of the year by the American Baseball Coaches Association. He hit .595 with 28 home runs last spring for his high school team.

A tip of the cap

Roseburg (Ore.) pitcher Brandon Jackson (10-1) was the Northwest Regional MVP after picking up two wins.

Jackson shared what has driven him this summer.

Under the bill of his ball cap he wrote these letters: WJJ. They stand for Wanda Joyce Jackson, his grandmother who died last fall.

“After my grandma passed away, this has made me work much harder,” Jackson said. “I wrote her initials under the bill of my cap so I’d have a constant reminder.”

Quick hits

Roseburg coach Scott Shaver isn’t in a hurry for the summer to end because as soon as his team is finished he’ll have to return to his real job. In the spring, fall and winter he works construction for his father-in-law. “I have a great boss. He gives me the summers off so I can coach Legion,” Shaver said. … On the day Nevada state champion Sierra Vista won twice to advance to the World Series, Lions alum Chris Carter made his debut in left field for the Oakland A’s against the Seattle Mariners, going 0-3. … Las Vegas pitcher Nick Kingham, a fourth-round draft pick by Pittsburgh, signed his pro contract Sunday, after committing to Oregon.

Staff writer Greg Lee contributed to this story.