Important Dates In The History of The American Legion Athletic Club

 

March 1, 1919 - First Meeting to form American Legion Post #1 held March 1, 1919 at the office of Attorney Edmund Lee Jones in Wheeling, West Virginia.

March 7, 1919 - Post #1 confirmed first post in America in Washington, D.C. and later labeled “The Oldest Post in America”.

1925 - The American Legion Department of South Dakota proposes a “Legion Junior Baseball” as a nationwide program as service to the United States youth.

1926 - Inaugural Season. The first National Tournament is played with 16 states participating.

1928 - West Virginia crowns first State Champion - Huntington

 

July 1938 - Post #1 wins its First State Championship. The team’s Head Coach was Wheeling Island Pharmacist and legendary local baseball player Walter Ray “Lefty” Hamilton. Hamilton was one of the 21 original incorporators of the American Legion Athletic Club.

 

July 16, 1938 - Harry Clouse receives communication from National Legion inviting Wheeling Post #1 to host the 4 team Regional Tournament to select a team to represent the region at the Southeastern Sectional in Charlotte, North Carolina.

 

August 8, 1938 - Incorporation of the American Legion Athletic Club.  Founded to “Promulgate and uphold the principals upon which The American Legion is founded, to promote the welfare of its members, the members of its affiliate organizations and the community by providing facilities for mental and physical improvement; to promote high-grade athletics, sportsmanship, and the appreciation of sports through clean athletic contests among adults and youths and to provide therefrom where possible income for charitable and benevolent uses.  To procure suitable and necessary buildings, quarters, clubs, grounds, athletic fields and other facilities and equipment necessary or useful for these purposes; to foster and conduct contests of all kinds.”

 

August 10, 1938 - First meeting of the stockholders of the American Legion Athletic Club. Original Incorporators: T. Y. Beckett, James R. Flynn, Bernard E. Kaiser, George W. Prettyman, Jr., Sam Front, Corneas M. Kahl, W. R. Hamilton, George B. Kennedy, Walter J. Gribben, Bernard W. Burkle, Edmund Lee Jones, Harry T. Clouse, C. Lee Spillers, Geo. W. Morrison, Geo. W. Keane, J. Roy Guess, Joseph F. Becke, Daniel E. Wood, C. B. Montgomery, Joe S. Jefferson, J.R. McManus

Approval vote to purchase a parcel called the “Fulton Baseball Grounds” for $18,000.00. Six Board Members including Clark N. Porter co-sign on loan to raise funds to purchase the field. Thereafter, for years the field was used to host a “traveling carnival” to fund the Post #1 Team. The field was formerly owned by Mr. Holloway, the owner of the famed semi-pro team “Wheeling Stoogies”. In the earlier days of the field, it hosted an exhibition game between the New York Yankees and a farm team wherein Babe Ruth hit 2 home runs over Fulton School in right field.

 

August 10, 1938 - Thomas Y. Beckett elected President of the American Legion Athletic Club (ALAC) and serves until his death on December 20, 1951.

 

August 10-12, 1938 - Post #1 hosts Regional Tournament at Fulton Field including State Champions from Missouri, Tennessee, Kentucky and West Virginia.

 

August 11, 1938 - Ruth B. Holloway, widow of former owner of the Wheeling Stoogies, deeds Fulton Baseball Ground or “Bauer’s Park” to the American Legion Athletic Club.

 

August 12, 1938 - American Legion Athletic Club conducts pre-game ceremony before Regional Championship Game to formally take ownership of Fulton Field. Six ALAC members, including Clark N. Porter, sign on note for purchase price at $18,000.00. The field had in its “heyday” hosted the famed New York Yankees playing in an exhibition game against a Triple A Yankee affiliate team where Babe Ruth hit two home runs over Fulton School. The same field where the Pittsburgh Steelers original owner, Art Rooney, played for the Wheeling Stoogies, a Detroit Tigers farm team.

 

July/August 1949 - Post #1 team wins Area, State, Regional, Sectional to participate in “Final 4” at Rosenblatt Stadium in Omaha, Nebraska.  Post #1 goes 1 – 2 and places as 3rd Place National Finalist.  Tom “Little Tommy” Manion pitches 2nd game for the win.

February 1952 - Clark M. Porter of Wheeling Island elected Club President to replace deceased T. Y. Beckett.  Mr. Porter serves as President until his death on June 27, 1981.

 

February 1953 - Chi-Chi Figaretti named Head Coach.

 

June 1954 - Post #1 employs first “hard shell” batting helmet for all batters

 

July 1954 - Post #1 State Runner-up under Head Coach Harold “Lard” Vitale

 

July 1956 - Post #1 State Runner-up

 

May 1958 - American Legion Athletic Club begins financial sponsorship of Wheeling Midget Leagues.  Board views the development of young ball players in its best interest as “Farm System”.

 

June 1959 - Ohio Valley Window Co.’s first year of a long run of uniform sponsorship

 

July 1963 - Post #1 wins its 3rd State Title under Head Coach Harold “Lard” Vitale and Assistant Coach Joseph “Tipper” Zarnoch.

 

July 1964 - Post #1 goes back to back and wins its 4th State Title.  Head Coach:  Harold “Lard” Vitale

 

July 1966 - Post #1 wins its 5th State Title.  Head Coach Harold “Lard” Vitale. Post #1 travelled to Brigdon, New Jersey to play in the Region Two 6 team Tournament

 

September 13, 1968 - Fulton Field was sold by American Legion Athletic Club to J.E. Miller Transfer Company for $125,000.00. The deed was signed by ALAC President Clark N. Porter and notarized by ALAC Board Member Edmund Lee Jones. Clark N. Porter gave $20,000.00 to the Post #1 Home Corporation and $105,000.00 was used to set up a Trust in favor of the American Legion Athletic Club to insure its perpetual financial stability.

 

June 1968 - Post #1 moves to Middle Creek Field. Rented for $1.00 from Valley Camp Coal

 

July 18, 1970 - Post #1 plays in what is believed to be at the time the longest West Virginia American Legion Baseball game in the nation’s history – 21 innings – versus the Pittsburgh “Little Pirates” at Middle Wheeling Creek Field.  Post #1 wins 3 – 2 in come back style when Tim O’Shaughnessy started the bottom of the 21st inning with a single.  He moved to 2nd base on a Wayne Flading single.  A double by Owen Hughes tied the game and put the winning run on third.  Tom Yochum was intentionally walked to load the bases for Steve Wojcik.  Wojcik hit a line drive walk off gap shot in right center to end the game.

Post #1 only used two pitchers.  Steve Wojcik worked the first 12 innings striking out 8 batters and giving up 2 walks.  Bruce Hatcher came on in the 13th inning and pitched the remainder.  The game was scoreless through 19 innings.  Catcher Tom Yochum caught all 21 innings.  This was Game #1 of a double header.  Reportedly Harold “Lard” Vitale announced to the ‘Little Pirates” that the second game would start in 15 minutes and the Little Pirates loaded their bus and left the complex.

 

July 1971 - Post #1 State Runner-up

 

July 1974 - Post #1 State Runner-up

 

July 1975 - Post #1 wins its 6th State Championship in Clarksburg.  Head Coach Harold “Lard” Vitale (last season as Head Coach wins his 4th State Championship). Regional Tournament at Colonial Heights, Virginia.

 

July 1977 - Post #1 State Runner-up

 

July 1978 - Post #1 wins its 7th State Championship in Williamstown (Tourney Record 4-0).  Head Coach Bill “Wally” Walters.  Entering State Tourney the team had a losing record of 20-21.  Won 4 straight games at State Tourney and went 1 – 2 at Regional Tourney in Hampton, Virginia.  Manager:   Chuck Koehler.

 

June 1979 - Middle Wheeling Creek Field sold to Ohio County Board of Education to build Middle Creek Elementary School. Post #1 moves home field to Wheeling Park High School. Team Record 17-22

 

February 18, 1981 - Charter Trustee Edmund Lee Jones dies after serving 52 years as Trustee.  As of 2018 he was the longest serving Trustee in Club history.

 

July 27, 1981 - Clark N. Porter passes at age 86 while still President of the American Legion Athletic Club. At his death, the $105,000.00 invested in the Trust upon the sale of Fulton Field had grown to $190,000.00.

 

February 1982 - Richard “Dick” Moore elected Club President replacing deceased Clark N. Porter

 

July 1982 - Post #1 wins its 8th State Championship.  Head Coach:  Bill “Wally” Walters.  Manager:  Chuck Koehler Assistant Coach: Jack Walter. Team Record 21-26

 

July 1983 - Post #1 wins its 9th State Championship.  Head Coach:  Bill “Wally” Walters.  Manager:  Chuck Koehler

 

1983 - Team Record 44-10 (most ever won by Post #1). 0-2 at Regional Tournament

 

July 1983 - Joe Blaha named West Virginia State Player of the Year.

 

July 1984 - Post #1 wins its 10th State Championship. Jim LeMasters named Tournament MVP. Mike Stoker wins Tournament Sportsmanship Award.  Head Coach:  Bill “Wally” Walters.  Manager:  Chuck Koehler

 

1984 - Team Record 37-13

 

July 1985 - Post #1 wins its 11th State Championship.  Head Coach:  Bill “Wally” Walters.  Manager:  Chuck Koehler

 

July 1985 - Steve Novotney named West Virginia State Player of the Year.

 

July 1986 - Post #1 wins its 12th State Championship. Heath Haynes named MVP of the State Tournament.  Head Coach:  Bill “Wally” Walters.  Held at Patterson Field, Wheeling.  Manager:  Chuck Koehler

 

1986 - Player Jason Frohnapfel becomes first player in the State of West Virginia to play on 4 consecutive State Championship teams.

 

1986 - Post #1 wins Regional Game at Boyerstown, PA.

 

1987 - Heath Haynes named West Virginia Player of the Year recording a 15-0 record on the mound.

 

July 1987 - Post #1 wins its 13th State Championship at Patterson Field in Wheeling.  Head Coach:  Bill “Wally” Walters.   Manager:  Chuck Koehler

 

July 1987 - Player Sean Jamison becomes 2nd player in state history to play on 4 consecutive State Championship teams.

July 1988 - Post #1 wins unprecedented 7th consecutive State Championship for its 14th overall.  Head Coach:  Bill “Wally” Walters.  Championship held at Patterson Field, Wheeling.  Manager:  Chuck Koehler. Gary Taylor name State Tourney MVP.

 

July 1988 - John Campbell named West Virginia State Player of the Year.

 

1990 - Richard “Dick” Moore retires as Club President and William T. “Billy” Burke, Jr., a Post #1 former player and Warwood Funeral Home Director, is elected Club President. Under Moore’s tenure, the Trust Fund had grown to $450,000.00.

 

June 1, 1994 - After several years in the Minor Leagues, Heath Haynes (Post #1 1986-87) made it to the Major League with the Montreal Expos appearing in 4 Major League games. He became the first Post #1 player in the modern-era (and still is as of 2018) to make it to Major League Baseball. Heath pitched 403 Minor League innings and recorded a record of 41-11 with an ERA of 2.66and striking out 463 batters. Heath played internationally in Taiwan, Mexico and Venezuela and pitched in the Caribbean World Series.

 

1994 - Team Record 21-21-1

 

July 1995 - Post #1 pitcher Mike Subutka pitches back to back no-hitters at tourney in Myrtle Beach, SC.

 

1995 - Team Record 21-19

 

February 13, 1996 - American Legion Athletic Club Board votes against expanding to sponsor a Junior Varsity Team

 

February 13, 1996 - Upon the passing of Trustee and 1949 3rd Place National Finalist Team Captain Robert “Slugger” Loew, Lowe’s son Larry Loew was elected Trustee and on the same night announced the formation of the “Robert L. and Nancy C. Loew Memorial Scholarship” endowed at West Liberty State College (now West Liberty University) to be awarded to a Post #1 former player who attends West Liberty (even if not playing baseball) who best represents the organization on and off the field.  $500.00 per year for four years.  

 

June 1996 - Post #1 moves home field to West Liberty State College (now West Liberty University)

 

1996 - Team Record 21-22

 

July 1996 - Post #1 plays game at Three Rivers Stadium in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and was first West Virginia team to make the Elkins Hillbilly Hardball Finals.  Defeated by Kernersville, NC in finals.

 

1997 - Teammates Zenko Wowczuk and Chris Johns throw no-hitters

 

1997 - Team Record 23-18 (Area Champions)

 

1998 - Team Record 20-24

 

1999 - Team Record 20-24

 

2000 - Team Record 11-23

 

2001 - Team Record 27-12 (Area Champions)

 

July, 2001 - Alumni day held with golf scramble.  37 alums attend.

 

2002 - Team Record 28-17 (Area Champions) 0-2 at State Tourney

 

June 2003 - Post #1 moves home field to J. B. Chambers Complex Field #5 at I-470.

 

July 2004 - Post #1 player-catcher Michael Carroll is named West Virginia and Mid-East Region Player of the Year.

 

2004 - Team Record 28-16 (Area Champions)

 

2006 - Player Mike Hockenberry named National Gatorade Scholarship winner.

 

2007 - Team Record 28-15

 

2008 - Post #1 lead by Head Coach Tom Pasco are State Runner’s Up.

 

2009 - Season record 23-12 before State Tournament.

 

2010 - Season record before State Tournament 20-17.

 

February, 2011 - Dave Koehler elected Club President replacing retiring Bill Burke.

 

July 2012 - Post #1 hosts State Tourney at I-470.  First time in Wheeling since 1988.  Banquet held at Oglebay Shelter.  Kent “Teke” Tekulvie of 1979 World Series Champion Pittsburgh “We Are Family” Pirates serves as keynote speaker.  Don Tennant and Dave Koehler serve as Co-Chairs for hosting the Tournament.

 

July 2012 - Post #1 enters 2012 State Tournament as Host Team with 21-9 record.

 

February, 2012 - Don Tennant elected Club President replacing retiring Dave Koehler.

 

February 2012 - Board of Trustees commits $5,000 to Friends of I-470 lead by Doug Costain for I-470 Press Box construction.

 

February 2013 - Lead by Doug Costain’s Friends of I-470 along with Post #1 Baseball, ALAC, Wheeling Central High School, the Ohio County Commission and the J.B. Chambers Foundation raise $125,000 for Field 5 renovations.

 

2013 - Rick Szeligo selected as Head Coach replacing Tom Pasco.

 

February 2014 - Mark Delbrugge (West Liberty University Hall of Fame Baseball Player and former Wheeling Park High School Head Varsity Coach) selected as Head Coach replacing Rick Szeligo. Board of Trustees vote to expand the baseball program to sponsor a Junior Varsity Team (Head Coach Jon Michael Brunner) and 15U Team (Head Coach Doug Costain).

 

July 2014 - Press Box construction at I-470 Field 5 completed by JV Assistant Coach Jim McAbee.

 

July 2014 - Post #1 goes 5 – 0 at Hillbilly Hardball Classic – rain cancels Championship Game.

 

July 2014 - Post #1 wins 2nd Place Pool at Wheeling’s Beast of the East tournament (highest finish ever) with 8-1 Tournament Record.

 

July 2014 - In his first year as Head Coach, Mark Delbrugge leads the Varsity to Area One Championship and 2-2 record in State Championship.  Post #1 was the only team to defeat the eventual State Champion Fairmont.  Post #1 also defeated South Charleston in State Tournament.  South Charleston entered the State Tournament with a 36 and 2 record with their only 2 regular season losses at the hand of Post #1. Post #1 final season record was 29 and 11.

 

February 2015 - Board of American Legion Athletic Club votes to expand baseball program by “adopting” 9U team coached by Board Member Sean Jamison.

June 2015 - Post #1 holds Alumni Day honoring 1949 National 3rd Place Championship Team.  In attendance was two of the three known living members:  Thomas “Little Tommy” Manion (Game Two Winning Pitcher at National Tourney) and Shortstop George Gongola.  Team member Bob Kupchak was too ill to attend.

                                               

July 2015 - In Mark Delbrugge’s 2nd season as Skipper, Post #1 wins first State Championship in 28 years and 15th overall.  Team won 4 straight at State Tourney (at Pocatalico, WV) and scored 45 runs while limiting Fairmont, Jefferson, and South Charleston to just 14 runs.  Pitcher Mario Peroni (West Liberty University) pitched the Championship Game at the State Tournament for an overall season pitching record of 11-0.  Team lost heartbreaker in opening game at Regional (Southeast) Rowan County, North Carolina (7-4) at Asheboro, NC.  Ended season with 2nd loss the following morning to Tallahassee, Florida (8-3) for overall record of 27-10.  Business Manager:  Chuck Koehler

 

September 2015 - Post #1 Board votes to “adopt” 9U (Head Coach Tim Gessler) team and 13U (Head Coach James Carson) team bringing the number of adopted youth travel teams to three.

 

June 2016 - Alumni Day held honoring 1966 State Champions.

 

July 2016 - Post #1 wins 2nd Place Pool at Beast of the East matching the teams 2014 highest finish in Tournament. (8-1) Record in tournament)

 

July 2016 - In Mark Delbrugge’s 3rd season as Skipper, the team repeats as State Champion (at Bethany College) winning all 4 games for the Team’s 16th State Championship. Post #1 defeats South Charleston in Championship Game with Brian Shaw/Colton Coss combining on the mound for a 3-1 win.

 

July 2016 - Post #1 wins first Regional Game in Asheboro, NC versus Tallahassee, FL (Florida State Champion) 12-0 with Jub Delbrugge spinning a 2 hitter. Post #1 loses to Randolph County, North Carolina and Columbia, Tennessee to be eliminated from the Regional Tournament.  Final record 32 and 13.

 

August 14, 2016 - New Register Sports Editor writes the following: “Wheeling Post #1’s American Legion Baseball Team enjoyed another brilliant summer of success. Post #1 finished the campaign with a sparkling 32-13 record… Prior to last year, Wheeling had not captured a State crown since 1988… Mark Delbrugge assumed the Post #1 coaching reigns three years ago. He obviously possesses a magical touch. The Post #1 Program has undergone a renaissance the past three seasons thanks to great leadership from top to bottom.”

 

June 2017 - Alumni Day held honoring 2015 and 2016 State Champions.

 

June 14, 2017 - Wheeling Post #1 at Cadiz, Ohio. Shortstop Jarrett Delbrugge hits for the “cycle” in a 17-7 victory in a “mercy rule” shortened game. The “cycle hit” was the hardest hit to obtain, a triple.

 

July 2017 - New scoreboard installed at I-470 Field 5 with money raised by Friends of I-470 leader Doug Costain.

 

July 2017 - Post #1 is invited to play in the inaugural West Point Classic played at the United States Military Academy in Hudson, New York. Jub Delbrugge pitches No-Hitter against White River Junction, Vermont (2016 Vermont State Champion).

 

July 2017 - Post #1 “Threepeats” as State Champions in win against Bridgeport Post 11. Final Game winning pitcher Tyler Riedel. Post #1 drops first two games at Southeast Regional Tournament in Asheboro, North Carolina. Final Season Record: 26-17.

 

August 6, 2017 - News Register Sports Editor Bubba Kapral writes the following: “Winning State Championships is a noteworthy achievement. Pulling that fete off three successive years is truly remarkable… Post #1’s success goes beyond just players. The leadership from top to bottom is proactive, passionate and on the same page. The Post #1 leadership is committed to excellence on and off the field.”

 

November 2017 - Head Coach Mark Delbrugge retires as Head Coach with an overall Team Record of 114-48 in four seasons. Team’s Record in four State Championship Tournaments: 13-3. After 4 years at the helm, Coach Delbrugge has placed 14 players at the college level (1 Div. I and 13 Div. II). The American Legion Athletic Club Board unanimously selects JonMichael Brunner (The Linsly School and West Liberty University Baseball Star) as Head Coach. Prior to Brunner’s selection he served as 15U and Junior Varsity Head Coach for 4 years.

 

January 2018 - “Conlin’s Corner” fan seating area completed down 3rd base line at I-470 Field #5 in honor of long-time youth baseball and Wheeling Center JV and Varsity (2016) Coach Jamie Conlin. Conlin died way too early in life succumbing to cancer. Coach Conlin was an avid supporter of Post #1 Baseball. The money raised for this project was lead by Friends of I-470 leader Doug Costain.

May 2018 - New field tarp was purchased through a donation by 1955 Post #1 Alum and long time fall ball coach Ray McNabb.

 

June 16, 2018 - Alumni Day held at I-470 Field 5. 30 former players returned to honor Head Coach Mark Delbrugge (2014-2017). Coach Delbrugge was awarded a ceremonial plaque that was handed to him by Business Manager Chuck “Coach K” Koehler that stated the following:

  “In recognition of your leadership, tireless effort, relentless enthusiasm and team building aptitude, the American Legion Athletic Club honors you this June 16, 2018 Alumni Day for returning Post #1 Baseball to statewide respect and re-establishing the pride Post #1 alumni and supporters deserve.”

  Delbrugge quoted in the Wheeling Intelligencer “This was possibly the most special day of my life, other than when my sons were born. This is something I will never forget”, “The stories we shared and the fun we had is something I’ll always remember” and “The relationships I’ve made and the friendships, it’s hard to put into words how special this day has been for me.”

  Also, in attendance was the last living member of the 1949 3rd Place National Finalist Team for Post #1, George Gongola. Mr. Gongola, at age 87, threw out the first pitch to open the game. Mr. Gongola was quoted in the Wheeling Intelligencer as saying “This was a beautiful day. It’s good to see this team here and the rest of the legion teams doing so well. Baseball was a big part of my life and it should be for all young kids. It helps build character.”

 

June 24, 2018 - Varsity Team wins Championship at the Jim Jadwin Memorial Legion Classic in Chillicothe, Ohio by going 5-0.

 

July 8, 2018 - Varsity wins Third Place Pool in Beast of East with 3 wins on Sunday. Team keeps a perfect record on Sunday play over 4 years of 11-0. The Team’s only losses in the Tournament came to Tourney Champion and Runner-Up.

 

July 10, 2018 - Post #1 Player (2015) and West Virginia University Pitcher Michael Grove is selected 68th overall in Major League Draft (first player in second round) by the Los Angeles Dodgers and signs a $1.2 million dollar signing bonus.

 

July 15, 2018 - Post #1 holds first Veterans’ Day celebration at I-470. While 17 veterans showed up and were treated to a commemorative t-shirt, food and drink, the festivities had to be cancelled due to rain.

July 2018 - Post #1 Junior Varsity wins Junior Varsity State Title in the first State Championship in the Junior Division.

 

July 2018 - Varsity wins Area Tournament for sixth consecutive year but is eliminated in State Tourney played in St. Albans in defeats to South Charleston (runner-up) in extra innings and Parkersburg (State Champions). Head Coach Jon Michael Brunner ends first season with a spectacular 33-11 record.

 

August 2018 - Post #1 holds open tryouts to field a Junior Varsity and Varsity squad in 2019.

 

May 2019 - With the guidance of an ad hoc committee led by Project Best Co-Chair Ginny Favede, Field 5 supporters implemented the transfer of a large section of Belle Isle Park’s stands to the third base side of Field 5 with Benji Swanson, business manager of Ironworkers Local 549, Local 4842 providing the labor to dismantle, transport and reassemble. The addition of the stands enhances the seating capacity of Field 5 in anticipation of hosting the State Tournament in 2020.

 

May 2019 - Conlin’s Corner is completed and a formal completion celebration was held with Jamie Conlin’s mother, Carol, present.