The Thomas M. Brady American Legion Post 45 Canton team is closing out its regular season today and will be shooting for a playoff bid.
Post 45 is one of 11 teams that make up the American Legion League. Each team is made up of 18 players between the ages of 15 to 19, and draws its talent from Cherokee, Sequoyah, River Ridge and Pickens high schools.
Today is the final game of the regular season, with playoffs still ahead for 10 of the 11 teams in the league.
Ryan Gobey, a recent Cherokee graduate, is proof that honing one’s skills on the Post 45 team has it benefits. Gobey, who will attend Reinhardt University in Waleska this fall, will try out for the Eagles’ baseball team today.
A doubleheader is set for this afternoon at 2 p.m. at Legion Field behind the Thomas M. Brady Legion Post.
Though a bit of an unknown commodity, the Post 45 team has been in existence for roughly a decade. Barry Cambron, the team’s manager, feels that playing in the legion helped Gobey enhance his skill set to the point of getting the chance at playing college baseball
With a season that runs from June 1-July 23, the league presents not only an alternative way to stay sharp throughout the summer, but also provides a forum for recent graduates to showcase their talent and skills that could take them to the next level.
“I’m not saying an exact amount, but a good bit,” Cambron said when asked how much credit Post 45 is due for Gobey’s success.
Gobey certainly isn’t the first player who has been able to use American Legion games as a springboard to competing at the college level.
Post 45 has a history of helping send high school graduates to college with a scholarship in hand.
“Since I’ve been doing it, except for last year, I’ve had at least one every year (go to college on a baseball scholarship) — on average, two to three. In 2009, the whole team went,” Cambron said.
Despite Cambron’s pride in seeing so many of his players find success at the college level, it’s what goes on off the field that he cares about the most.
“I try to teach them about what the Legion does for veterans,” Cambron said. “(The league) teaches them respect and discipline, even if it’s just a sport.”
He is quick to point out, however, that the team is not all work and no play.
“It’s a more relaxed atmosphere,” Cambron said. “We don’t practice every day. They have a lot of fun. Some of the kids have told me that it’s the most fun they’ve ever had.”
When asked what he thought his team’s chances were heading into the playoffs, Cambron seemed cautiously optimistic.
“If they show up to play,” he said, “they should hold their own.”
The only disappointment Cambron seems to have taken away from his time with Post 45 is the low attendance.
In the six years Cambron has been involved with the team, he figures the number of fans showing up to the games has only increased marginally.
It is a number that Cambron hopes will soon improve.
“I wish more people would get involved and support the ball team, which would support the post, which would support the veterans, who give us the freedom that we have.”