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Cardinals exec to help launch 2016 American Legion regional tourney


EDWARDSVILLE – Players from six Midwestern states, along with professional and college scouts from across the country, will converge in Edwardsville in August for the Great Lakes Regional phase of the American Legion National Baseball Tournament.

The tourney, which showcases some the best amateur talent, will take place Wednesday, Aug. 3, to Sunday, Aug. 7, SIUE will play host to this national event.

slater mattPlayers and coaches will be treated to an evening of celebration at a tournament banquet on Tuesday, Aug. 2, at Edison’s Entertainment Complex. Matt Slater (left), director, player personnel, special assistant to the general manager at St. Louis Cardinals, will headline a panel of keynote speakers to welcome the players to the area. Slater joined the Cardinal organization in 2007 and is in his 26th year in Major League Baseball. Named director of player personnel in January 2012, Slater, in his role as senior talent evaluator, works hand in hand with the general manager in all player acquisitions including Major League, minor league, amateur draft and international talent.

Other keynote speakers are slated to include Col. Anthony Mitchell, USACE, and U.S. Congressman Rodney Davis, R-Taylorville.

The tournament is one of eight regional sites from which the champions will advance to the American Legion World Series to be held in Shelby, N.C., and televised on ESPNU. The combined local Edwardsville Post 199/Alton Post 126 team will serve as host and also enjoy an automatic bid to participate in the tournament. Last year’s team fell just one win short of advancing to the World Series losing to Midland, Mich., the previous year’s ALWS runner-up.

Some 15 games will be played at Simmons Baseball Complex/Roy Lee Field located on the campus of Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville off of New Poag Road in Edwardsville. Teams will feature graduating high school seniors and college aged freshman from Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky and Illinois.

Opening ceremonies, held on the field Wednesday, Aug. 3, at 4 p.m., will include local dignitaries, a special color guard and anthem, a salute to our military and presentations from the mayor of Edwardsville as well as the recitation of the American Legion code of honor from all players participating.

“Our sports facilities are second to none,” said Mayor Hal Patton. “These players will experience a safe community, a fun community, and a heck of a place to play baseball.”

“This tournament puts our region and the local legion program on a national stage,” noted Matt McSparin, tournament co-director. “It is a great opportunity to pay tribute to our military personnel, while providing these young men a chance to compete at a high level. This is grass roots, amateur baseball at its best and our local boys will surely remember this as a once-in-a-lifetime experience.”

Advance tickets are not yet available, but all tournament information and updates are online at Game sessions $5 per ticket, a day pass is $10, and an all-tournament pass is only $30. Those interested in getting involved as a volunteer, a sponsor, or to simply help promote the event can contact Matt McSparin at (618) 307-9020 or or Ron Tanner at (618) 570-9125 or for more information.

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