State Legion honors Ely

Ely American Legion Post 248 was named Minnesota’s “Post of the Year”

Baseball season has ended but Ely had what amounted to a game-winning double play last week in the Twin Cities.
Ely American Legion Post 248 was named Minnesota’s “Post of the Year” by the state Legion baseball board of directors.
The same group also approved Ely’s bid to host the 2021 Divison II Junior Legion State Tournament.
The recognition comes in advance of next summer’s Division II Senior Legion State Tournament, which will be held Aug 2-4, 2019 at Veterans Memorial Field.
That will be the latest in a long line of major tournaments to be held at Ely’s historic ballpark, and committee members were quick to award the community the opportunity host the fledgling Division II Junior Legion event.
The last two years, Minnesota has held a state tournament for the Junior Legion level, which has taken off in popularity and has replaced VFW baseball as the program of choice in many small towns.
Junior Legion baseball is for players age 17-and-under.
“We’re really excited to have the chance to host the Junior State Tournament in Ely,” said Tom Coombe, Ely’s American Legion Coach and a member of the state Legion board. “For smaller communities like ours, Division II Junior Legion baseball is a perfect fit and the program has really taken off.”
Minnesota has about 70 Junior Legion teams, a number that is expected to grow.
Meanwhile, the state committee voted unanimously to recognize Ely’s Legion post for its long service to Legion baseball, which dates back several decades in the community.
Ely remains the smallest community to ever host the American Legion World Series, which was held here in 1980, and Post 248 has had a role in hosting eight state tournaments in town and three multi-state regional events in the last four decades.
The late Matt Stukel also served as State Legion Baseball Director and several post members have spots in the Minnesota American Legion Baseball Hall of Fame.
“It only makes sense that Ely be named Post of the Year,” said Coombe. “Ely has been synonymous with Legion baseball since the 1960s. It’s a great honor for the post.”
Post representatives will be recognized next summer, at the banquet prior to the Division II State Tournament.
That state tournament, along with the event in 2021, are both expected to bring several hundred players, coaches, parents and fans to the community.
“These state tournaments have a tremendous economic impact,” said Coombe. “We’ll have visitors from all over the state, all staying three nights or more in town.”