WOODLAND — While the American Legion honored its 24-member squad, Yolo Post 77 skipper Dave Ryan praised the region for keeping community baseball alive at the program’s annual recognition banquet on Wednesday.
With almost every seat filled at the American Legion Hall, Ryan told the crowd:
“This season was a lot of fun. But it’s a dying thing, community baseball. A great thing is going by the wayside.”
However, Ryan added he was proud that Post 77 — through the efforts of people like operations manager Frank Eakle — had a large player turnout again, and “that our efforts on the field showed a lot of enthusiasm and pride.”
Ryan said while other communities were struggling to field American Legion teams, “this area has been supportive.” He also urged local high schools and parents of players to trust in the level of play and caliber of coaching offered by American Legion. He added that showcase baseball is expensive and doesn’t provide a complete picture for next-level coaches.
Ryan, in his first season as head coach after taking over for longtime manager Matt Castles this spring, introduced those players in attendance, provided stories about each and, at the evening’s end, presented three team honors.
Most valuable player was former Pioneer High standout Thomas Galart. Currently enrolled at Cosumnes River College, the heavy-hitting Galart earned the David Drew Trophy.
“We actually had a lot of MVPs on this team. A lot of guys contributed,” Ryan explained. “But in talking to coaches … we agreed Galart was completely a quality MVP.”
Woodland hurler Carlos Enriquez, who is headed to Butte College to pitch, took home the newly named Scott Heinig Award. The award honors the team’s top pitcher. Enriquez had a 2.47 earned run average in 14 appearances and fanned 38 in 39 innings.
(The late Heinig was a former player for Post 77, UC Davis and Davis High — teams he captained along the way.)
Jake Miille took home the Bobby Jones Award for most inspirational player. Miille is another ex-Blue Devil who played every position but shortstop for Yolo.
Post 77 finished the season 17-17.