Deerfield baseball coach Kevin Marsh has wanted his players to have the option of playing American Legion baseball since the 1990s.
It’s finally happening. Deerfield players — past and present — now are playing for Deerfield Post 738. The team was 2-3 through Saturday, and Marsh said he is excited to build the Legion program the way he has the high school team.
“I will never give up this post,” Marsh said with a smile. “We’ve been waiting for this for a long time; we’re going to make it a great thing for our community.”
Previously, Post 738 sponsored a team largely made up of players from Stevenson. When the Deerfield baseball players learned they would have a chance to play Legion ball, many jumped at the chance.
“It’s a fantastic opportunity,” said Brad Weaver, who just graduated from Deerfield and will play next season for Grinnell College in Iowa. “The competition is so much better.”
When Marsh learned this spring that the Legion team was a done deal, he sent text messages to recent graduates. College players are eligible as long as they were born after 1994.
“To be able to coach and be around guys I once had in the high school program put a smile on my face,” Marsh said. “It’s a lot of fun.”
One of those players is Jared Rubin, an outfielder/pitcher who just completed his freshman season at Illinois Wesleyan.
“It was a good opportunity for me, really a no-brainer,” Rubin said. “It’s cool to be able to come back and play for my high school again. We were a senior-heavy team, so it’s fun to play with so many guys after they’ve had a full year [to develop] and play a lot.”
Another graduate playing for the Legion team is shortstop/second baseman Alex Karkazis. Karkazis just finished his freshman year at Marquette, but had not played competitive baseball in more than a year.
“It’s like riding a bike,” Marsh said about Karkazis’ transition. “I’ve been real pleased with how quickly he’s settled in and how solid he’s been defensively.”
Joe Lieberman, who just completed his junior season for the Warriors, said this will be great preparation for his senior year.
“This is a good baseball experience for current and former Deerfield High School players,” he said. “We play good competition against different age groups. Every game gives me and my teammates a chance to [improve].”
Marsh said another benefit is that it will give players who are not participating in Legion ball more playing time on Deerfield’s summer team. This season’s Legion roster features 14 players, a number Marsh expects will grow in subsequent years.
“This will be a really good thing for our younger players to be part of,” Marsh said. “It’s opened up more innings for a lot of different kids and is going to be a huge benefit for us.”