The American Legion baseball league has been in existence since 1925. The program helps young high school players develop their skills over the hot summers to get the attention of college and even some pro scouts in the stands. Legion baseball supports the morals of equality, sportsmanship, good health and active citizenship. The league also helps build and develop not only baseball skills, but lessons that the young men will take with them for the rest of their lives.
Three players from the Mohawk Valley that played through the legion baseball program have continued their success in baseball and are now a part of the Utica Blue Sox. The three players, Vincenzo Castronovo from Utica Post 229, Ryan Enos from Oriskany Post 1448, and Dewey Roden from Sherrill Post 230, will suit up in the blue and white this summer as a part of the Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League. The three players are very excited to be a part of the team and excited for the opportunity.
“I was very excited to be able to come home for the summer and play on the field that I basically grew up on,” said Castronovo.
Enos enjoyed his four years playing for Oriskany Post and has a lot of great memories, but he is ready to create new ones alongside Castronovo and Roden.
“It felt great knowing that I would be staying home for the summer and playing in a great league for the summer. I love playing here in Utica in front of all the people that I grew up with,” said Enos.
Roden loved playing legion baseball, but he is very excited for the challenges ahead of him playing for the Blue Sox this summer.
“It’s definitely nice to be able to climb the ladder of competition and keep striving to play on better stages,” said Roden.
Athletes, no matter what sport it is, always have that one person who helps them get through a tough loss or help when they are struggling with a situation on the field or in the clubhouse. Enos, Castronovo and Roden expressed how their fathers helped them deal with the mental stresses that baseball brings when climbing up the levels of the game.
“I would say my dad Eric Enos, my uncle Steve Strife, and all of the other coaches I’ve had along the way through my career. They have helped me develop my skills while also teaching me about the mental aspect of the game,” said Enos.
All the hard work that these men have put into their games and getting better every day has gotten the attention of George Deak, the Team Owner and General Manager of the Utica Blue Sox. Deak sees over a thousand player applications for the chance to be apart of the Blue Sox and when these three players came across his desk he had a good feeling that they would be successful.
“There is a lot that we do as a coaching staff when picking players for our team. First and foremost: does the player meet the physical requirements to play for us, second what type of person is he? Does he have behavioral issues? Is he a good teammate in the clubhouse? We look for the character just as much as the talent and these three guys fit that mold perfectly,” said Deak.
These three players are role models to any young players in the high school or legion ball today. They played the game the right way and put the work in that it took to get them where they are now. Playing legion baseball makes good players better and gives everyone a fair shot at climbing the ladder to play at the next level. Deak expressed his beliefs about how legion baseball can highlight players in a good and fair light for college and pro scouts.
“Legion ball is the fairest, most unbiased proving ground at that level of baseball. It is the more affordable option and the way the districts and posts are set up in the area you're not building super teams. It is based on the area at the time, Legion can give a under the radar type player a chance to be showcased and platform so that guys like me can and other scouts can see what they are doing,” said Deak.