American Legion
Minnesota Division I
State Tournament






Volume 7, No. 1 Rochester, Minnesota Thursday, August 7, 2003

16 Teams; Only One Title Final Poll: Who Will Be Cinderella Team?
The 2003 Minnesota American Legion Tournament was kicked off Wednesday night with the annual banquet.

The 78th annual tournament, the largest American Legion state tournament in the nation, begins with games Thursday on five field in Rochester.

The banquet at the Rochester Civic Center Auditorium featured Rev. Nicklas Mezacapa as the speaker.

Mezacapa, a former high school coach and teacher, told stories from his athletic career to the nearly 300 student athletes participating in this this year’s tournament.

“There’s a voice inside you that will talk you out of anything,” Mezacapa said, using the illustration of a runner hitting the wall. “But the real athlete in you will come through.”

Mezacapa recalled that sports may also be filled with disappointment, but they are an experience that overall is positive. “Team sports are a laboratory for life. Know that you have within you what it takes to win. Have a great tournament.”

Several awards were presented at the banquet including Coach of the Year to Excelsior’s Jim Peck and Post of the Year to Willmar, accepted by Commander Tom Phillips.

Minnesota American Legion Hall of Fame awards were presented to Norb Winter, Jack Bloedel, Swede Solheim and Al Zdon. Jack Morris was named Gradute of the Year.

The tourney will feature the top 16 teams in the state. They fought their way through sub-district and district play to reach the finals.

The winner and runner-up of the tournament will advance to National American Legion regional play in New Ulm, Minnesota, or Midland, Michigan, beginning Aug. 14.

The World Series will be the following week in Bartlesville, Oklahoma.

Last year’s champion was Apple Valley, with Excelsior coming in second. Excelsior advanced to the final game of the 2002 World Series before losing.

Minnesota has produced three national chapions: Minnepolis Richfield in 1942, Edina in 1983, and Tri-City Red in 1999.

No other state has a 16-team, double elimination tournament.

New this year will be a requirement that all games be nine innings in order to conform with national guidelines.

Rochester hosted the tournament two years ago. “We’re glad to be back,” State Director Darwin Berg said. “This is a great baseball city.”
The final result of the Minnesota American Legion Coaches and Media Poll, conducted by a panel of 15 Minnesota coaches and sports writers, was released this week.

"The poll is by no means scientific," said Gail Kalata, who assembles the poll results each week. "But in 2002 it was pretty darn near right on."

The 2002 poll had Excelsior, North St. Paul and Apple Valley ranked 1-2-3, and they ended the tournament in second, third and first place, respectively.

The poll was begun about 15 years ago by Excelsior Coach Jim Peck. He said it's the only Legion baseball poll of its kind in the nation.

"Will the 2003 poll be a good predictor? Stay tuned," Kalata said.

1. Rochester (10) - 133
2. Excelsior (5) - 132
3. Eden Prairie - 103
4. Apple Valley - 87
5. Lakeville - 75.5
6. New Ulm Gold - 60
7. Bloomington Blue - 54
8. Tri-City Red - 46
9. North St. Paul - 39
10. Alexandria - 26
11. East Grand Forks - 15.5
12. Hermantown - 15
13. Cold Spring - 14.5
14. Brainerd - 9
15. Marshall - 8
16. Richfield - 3
17. Burnsville - 2
17. Fergus Falls - 2
19. Hopkins - 0.5

Additional Issues:

The Gazette, Friday, August 8, 2003
The Gazette, Saturday, August 9, 2003
The Gazette, Sunday, August 10, 2003
2003 State Tournament Homepage


Last updated: 8/07/03
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Gail Kalata, Web Site Designer & American Legion Baseball Volunteer