The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

July 19, 2013

Progress seen in Connie Mack

By Bruce Campbell, Staff Writer
Enid News and Eagle

ENID, Okla. — With David Allen hosting the state Connie Mack tournament this week, it brings back memories of the good old days when going to the state American Legion tournament at the downtown ballpark became a yearly event.

It’s been five years since Enid last hosted the Legion tournament and it’s been four years since the Majors fell to Durant 8-2 in what proved to be Enid’s last Legion game. So, let’s not fantasize Legion baseball is not coming back to Enid. The powers that be switched to Connie Mack — good or bad — for a reason and that’s not going to change.

There has been progress in the Majors and Minors programs this year. It was good to see some traditional rivalries resumed. Enid went back to the Majors’ old haunts of the Midwest City Memorial Day Tournament and the Glen Winget Invitational (where they played in 2012 as well).

It was unfortunate the regularly scheduled games with the Outlaws were rained out. That was one of the best rivalries in Legion baseball.

It didn’t match the intensity of the games with Bob Ward’s Woodward Travelers, but the quality could be seen in that both teams have won national championships over the last 10 years.

The Majors still play the Travelers, but these weren’t Ward’s Travelers — they’re in Elk City now. Ironically, one complaint in this series was Enid felt Woodward recruited outside of its area (notably Asher’s Bruce Throckmorton). The late Vince Larsen stirred up the Woodward faithful when he announced over the P.A. system at Phillips-Failing Field the losing pitcher was Bruce Throckmorton, the state’s player of the year. Now, Enid draws players from faraway Glencoe, Norman and Newcastle among other places. Some long-time fans say they no longer attend games because they don’t know the players.

The Majors are well within the Connie Mack rules and these players appear to be good kids, but the team has lost a little bit of its identity from its Legion days when all of the players were at least from the northwest Oklahoma area.

One suggestion would be to have one team of Enid players (maybe including Chisholm, OBA, Pioneer, etc.) and the other consist of players from outside the Enid area. This worked well when Enid had AAA teams.

With more Enid High players on the Minors, it might be easier for the community to identify with that team. High school sports is much more personal than college or professional. It’s a safe bet most everyone in town has some connection with at least one local player, whether they go to the same school or the same church or neighbors or maybe working with the boy’s mother or father. Nothing personal, but Enid folks tend to root harder for Enid-area players.

Another suggestion would be to change the name of the two Connie Mack teams.

The Enid Minors shouldn’t be confused with the old AAA teams which basically served as a farm team for the majors. Several AAA players, after the conclusion of their season, would be called up to the Majors. This allowed some young players to get more playing time.The Majors obviously had the first choice of players, but the Minors are of equal stature. They will be the No. 3 seed at the state tournament and they competed well in the Les Beckham League.

 The name implies they are a farm team to the Majors when they are not. They are rivals now. Change the names to reflect some of Enid’s baseball history — the Mayberrys, the Ebys, the Records, the Browns, the Moultons, the Haywards, the Flemings.

Hopefully, more rivarlies will emerge in Connie Mack. League director Shannon Enfield has worked hard to connect Connie Mack and Legion teams.

Campbell is a News & Eagle sports writer.