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 BY JEFF FALK

 If you lack the ability to shake your head and embrace the concept of ‘it is what it is’, then you’re not going to like the Lebanon County American Legion Baseball League. But all joking aside, the story of this year’s Myerstown entry is what the league is really all about.

 It is a story of commitment breeding stability and stability breeding consistency. It is also the story of grown-ups setting examples for kids, and kids following leads.

 If the story of Myerstown was the black eye of the Lebanon County American Legion Baseball League last summer, then old Post 55 is the feel-good story of this summer.

 Last year – for more reasons that simply a lack of commitment – Myerstown was forced to forfeit a number of games and had its season cut short. This season, Myerstown is 10-5, qualified for the Lebanon County American Legion and entertaining a legitimate hope to advance to the eight-team, double-elimination Region Four tournament later this month.

 Now, here’s Johnny…

 “There’s been a ton of positives,” said Myerstown assistant head coach Johnny Mentzer. “We have a roster of 17 high quality young men who are going to do everything you ask them, every night they show up. They want to win. They want to compete. I think Cedar Crest and Elco both wanted to have better high school seasons than they did, so it’s nice to get back on track and win some baseball games.

 “This year has been really good for our players and coaches,” continued Mentzer. “It’s definitely been fun for me, and I know my dad (head coach John Mentzer, Sr.) has really enjoyed it. To go from three wins last year, and go to possibly having 11 or 12 this year, making the playoffs and possibly getting into regionals, that’s our goal every year.”

 Last summer may well have been the most disappointing season in Myerstown’s long and proud history of competing in the Lebanon County American Legion Baseball league. With a thin roster and players unable to make games for varying reasons, Myerstown’s season was basically cut in half, and then ultimately scrapped.

 The future of the program was brought into question.

 “I honestly have no idea what went on,” said Mentzer. “Last year, my dad and I were behind the scenes. I do know that this year, when we got to three wins, some of the kids joked we had equaled the number of wins from last year. But I can’t confirm exactly what happened. I know that ten wins is definitely more than they got last year.

 “With the program overall, we’ve been very fortunate to have some people involved for a long time,” Mentzer continued. “We were fortunate with the stability for a very long time. It was a family-run thing. There was consistency. I think the kids didn’t know who the coach was going to be. It hurt the number of kids who wanted to come out.”

< Last year’s head coach was Myerstown’s fourth in four seasons. Johnny Mentzer had headed the program from 2013-2015 – winning a pair of Lebanon County Legion baseball championships in the period – and before that his dad, John Mentzer, Sr., had been the head coach for 17 summers.

 The Mentzers felt compelled to act, and one of their initial moves was to bring on Cedar Crest assistant baseball coach Todd Beasley to help them.

 “We thought about it and we asked each other, ‘What do you want to do?,'” said Mentzer of his father. “We talked to Todd Beasley and he said he would help. We had 24 kids sign up. We had a lot of kids who wanted to be a part of it because we had been involved. When you have coaching changes, you have kids getting out. You’re not going to get commitment when coaches are leaving.

 “The were a lot of questions about the program,” added Mentzer. ” ‘Are we going to combine with Richland?’ ‘Are we going to have a Cedar Crest team?’ ‘Are we going to have an Elco team?’ We had a couple of decisions to make. We decided we’ll do it for a year, get some buy-in and go from there. My dad said, ‘We can’t always be the ones keeping the program afloat.’ There have been times this season when we kind of asked ourselves, ‘Why did we do it again?’ You never know what you’re going to get day-to-day. But it’s hard to find people willing to sacrifice the time.”

 So what would’ve happened if the Mentzers and Beasley hadn’t stepped up to the plate?

 “It would’ve folded,” said Mentzer. “It would’ve almost been like the way the Lancaster County league is. I would guess our kids would’ve had to go where they could go, the closest to their homes. If you can’t find a coach, you can’t have a team.”

 Many of the same players who suffered through last summer returned for Myerstown this year. But there has also been a level of new blood injected into the squad.

 While one would hope that the level of commitment to summer baseball has increased, Myerstown has still endured some degree of frustration.

 “I don’t know exactly what it was last year,” said Mentzer. “I’d like to say, ‘Yes’ (that the level of player commitment is higher). But we are still frustrated with the level of commitment. It’s (players not showing up for games) definitely not on a bigger scale than it was last year. We just have more kids out, and I think that counter-balances it a little bit.

 “It’s always a topic of conversation,” Mentzer added. “We told the kids at the beginning of the season, ‘Get us a list of dates you know you’re going to miss.’ Unfortunately, it hasn’t held true. But we did our best at the beginning of the season, having the kids tell us when they were going to be at games.”

 There was a time when American Legion baseball was a priority for Lebanon County student-athletes during the summer months. It is a time that has now passed.

 “I would say probably half of our roster is made up of baseball-first kids,” said Mentzer. “I would say the other half of the kids are something-else first. A good number of our Cedar Crest kids are baseball first, but they also play travel ball. The Elco kids are impact players in other sports. I’m worried about the toll it takes on them physically. It’s hard to keep them fresh all the time.”

 In many ways, this year’s team is a stop-gap measure, a way to get to the future, for the Myerstown program. It is a temporary solution to a permanent problem.

 “I would love to say myself and my dad and Todd will coach again next year,” said Mentzer. “I think we’d have a chance to get everybody back. I don’t know where my life is going to be next year. We’ll talk about it and try to figure it out at the end of the season. For my dad and I, it’s in our blood. It’s definitely a priority now. But we’ll re-evaluate that priority at the end of the season.”

 

 

 

  To purchase images in this article email jkfalk2005@yahoo.com.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 2019 Myerstown Schedule

  DaDay Date Time Status ScoRe Visitors Home    
  Sun 6/2/2019 2:00 pm W 2-1 Myerstown   Conrad Weiser   Womelsdorf  
  Sun 6/2/2019 4:30 pm W 5-1 Myerstown   Conrad Weiser   Womelsdorf  
  Tue 6/4/2019 6:00 pm L 2-3 Myerstown   5th Ward   5th Ward Athletic Club  
  Sun 6/9/2019 6:00 pm L 9-6 Ephrata   Myerstown   Myerstown  
  Wed 6/12/2019 6:00 pm L 10-1 Campbelltown   Myerstown   Myerstown  
  Fri 6/14/2019 7:00 pm W 8-4 Myerstown   Fredericksburg   Earl Wenger Memorial Field  
  Mon 6/17/2019 6:00 pm W 1-0 Myerstown   Annville   Annville High School  
  Tue 6/18/2019 6:00 pm W 0-1 Annville   Myerstown   Myerstown  
  Wed 6/19/2019 6:00 pm L 0-10 Myerstown   Campbelltown   Palmyra High School  
  Sun 6/23/2019 5:00 pm W 1-6 5th Ward   Myerstown   Myerstown  
  Mon 6/24/2019 6:00 pm W 3-13 Richland   Myerstown   Myerstown  
  Wed 6/26/2019 7:00 pm W 2-1 Myerstown   Ephrata   War Memorial Field  
  Sun 6/30/2019 5:00 pm W 4-5 Fredericksburg   Myerstown   Myerstown  
  Mon 7/1/2019 6:00 pm L 0-1 Myerstown   Richland   Lyle Krall Stadium @ Elco High School  
  Mon 7/1/2019 6:00 pm W 7-6 Myerstown   Richland   Lyle Krall Stadium @ Elco High School  
  Fri 7/5/2019 6:00 pm TBP   Conrad Weiser   Myerstown   Myerstown  
  Mon 7/8/2019 6:00 pm TBP   Ephrata   Myerstown   Myerstown  
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Lebanon County American Legion Baseball League

 East Division Standings

 

Team Won Lost Tied Pct. GB RF RA
Ephrata 11 3 0 .786 115 39
Myerstown 10 5 0 .667 1.5 59 54
Richland 6 8 0 .429 5.0 75 95
Conrad Weiser 2 12 0 .143 9.0 18 86

 

 West Division Standings

 

Team Won Lost Tied Pct. GB RF RA
Campbelltown 13 2 0 .867 98 30
Annville 5 8 0 .385 7.0 33 52
Fredericksburg 5 9 0 .357 7.5 62 79
5th Ward 4 9 0 .308 8.0 39 64

 

 

 

 

https://lebanonsportsbuzz.com/myerstown-forfeits-season-but-not-its-passion-for-summer-baseball/

 

 

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