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CEBA looks to fill the void for Legion baseball

The local boys of summer may get a season after all.

A dozen individuals who have been involved in American Legion baseball have gotten together to form the CT Elite Baseball Association LLC. (CEBA) to fill the void left by the Connecticut State American Legion suspending its season.

The Connecticut State American Legion announced on May 11 that it was scrapping its season after the National American Legion shut down all sponsorship. The latter had announced on April 7 that regional and national tournaments had been canceled due to the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic.

Connecticut had also suspended its sponsorship due to the pandemic, meaning that teams didn't have insurance and thus couldn't play.

"After the national Legion organization made their decision, which at the time seemed reasonably logical, and the state American Legion organization kind of followed suit, we took a little time, stepped back, and then started looking at what was going on in other states and what was possible," CEBA league director Craig Zimmerman said.

"One of the long-time (Legion) coaches is an insurance agent, and he went out to the industry. … He was able to walk us through the process (of getting insurance), which made it simpler for us. I thought what would be one of the difficulties (being underwritten)."

The tentative plan is for players to start conditioning on June 20. That is the first day that school and summer activities may start as part of Phase 2 of reopening the state, as announced by Gov. Ned Lamont on May 20. Teams would play around 20 games from July 1 through Aug. 9, followed by a three-day state tournament.

Over half of the teams in Zone 6 have said they'll take part in the CEBA season — Danielson, Jewett City, Norwich, Waterford "and probably Willimantic", Zone 6 Commissioner John Krot said, and would comprise District 6.

Moosup, Niantic and Tri-Town won't participate. Ledyard/Pawcatuck wasn't going to have a team this year.

Zimmerman said that 43 19-under teams statewide have agreed to take part in the CEBA. There were 57 19-U teams last summer. The league hopes to have a fall season, too.

"The only two things that we're waiting to see is what rules the governor puts into place (for youth sports)," Zimmerman said, "and if every town has decided whether they will make their fields available, or what rules they'd have at their facilities."

Zimmerman said they hoped to hear from Lamont by the end of the week. He said that the CEBA has been studying reports from the state, Ohio, and the CDC, among others, as a framework for their social distancing rules.

"We have a list and are waiting to see what the governor says later in the week," Zimmerman said. "I'd be surprised if it didn't include kids on the bench needing to be six feet apart, or, if dugouts aren't big enough, figuring something else out."

Players who have participated in Legion baseball before, but don't have a local team to play for this summer, would be allowed to get a waiver to play somewhere else, Zimmerman said.

n.griffen@theday.com

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