The 2020 American Legion baseball season has been canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic, with the national organization making the announcement official on Sunday.
There are a number of programs still hoping for a possible return to the field at some point this summer, but they would be doing so independently, and minus the sponsorship and endorsement of their respective legion posts, along with insurance provided through the national organization.
Steve DiVitto, manager of Milford Post 59, has been in contact with several area coaches about organizing games if restrictions were to loosen in the upcoming months. Tryouts for Post 59 were set to begin this weekend.
“We’re obviously going to see how things go, and right now the way that it stands, it’s a long shot,” DiVitto said. “But at the same time we are hopeful that something could happen here that will allow kids to get on the field in the middle to end of the summer. It’s a waiting game right now."
In a memo sent Monday, state chairman Richard Paster said teams “that conduct this 2020 baseball season program will need to determine their rules, guidelines, schedules, insurance coverage, etc., for their own teams as neither The American Legion National nor Department of Massachusetts organizations will provide this assistance.”
Paster called the decision a sad day for American Legion baseball, marking just the second time since 1926 that a season has been canceled. The other came during World War II.
“It’s an unprecedented situation here, but the health and safety of everyone involved is priority one,” DiVitto said. “From the Legion’s perspective, they don’t want to put anyone at risk. It’s not just the health of coaches and players, but umpires, families, parents, volunteers. There is a lot at stake here.”
In April, the American Legion National Organization had canceled the Legion World Series, which is held annually in Shelby, N.C.
It is a devastating blow for the players who also lost their high school seasons because of the coronavirus.
“My players know that I will do everything possible within the CDC guidelines to make sure they’re safe and put some kind of season together,” said Steve Maze, coach of Morrisette Post 294 in Quincy.
“The main thing is to be safe, but we know this is much bigger than the state of Massachusetts. The decision they made, you can see why.”
Morrisette Post 294 was scheduled to host the 2020 state tournament at Adams Field July 25-29.
Football hires at Arlington Catholic, Pembroke
Stephen Aborn has worked the football sideline as an assistant coach for nearly four decades. Aside from a two-year stint at the helm in Stoneham, David Wilcox has 20-plus years as an assistant.
This fall, Aborn and Wilcox will be charge of their own programs, the former at Pembroke, the latter at Arlington Catholic.
“I have always wanted to be a head coach; it has been one of my career goals, honestly,” said Aborn, 62, a 1976 graduate of Archbishop Williams. “I was fortunate the opportunity came in Pembroke, and I’m excited to be there.”
Aborn has served as an assistant head coach, offensive coordinator, or defensive coordinator at Archbishop Williams (1982-1995), Plymouth North (2013-2015, 2018), and Hanover (2016-2017).
“Coach Aborn is a proven commodity here in Eastern Mass. football,” Pembroke athletic director Justin Domingos said. “The ability he has to mentor future young leaders put him over the top.”
By day, Aborn serves as the vice president of business development at Allied Universal Security Services. He graduated from Northeastern University in 1983 with a degree in criminal justice.
His son, also named Stephen, graduated from Milton Academy in 2008 and played tight end at Harvard. The younger Stephen will serve as offensive coordinator. His daughters played high school basketball, Elizabeth at Sacred Heart in Kingston, and Caroline at Archbishop Williams.
The elder Aborn coached his kids in youth sports in the 2000s and got the itch to come back to coaching in 2013. He’s thrilled to get going.
“It’s close to where I live, and it makes a ton of sense‚” Aborn said. “I’m really excited for the opportunity.”
A theology teacher at Arlington Catholic and 23-year football assistant, Wilcox also served on the track and girls’ lacrosse coaching staff.
Wilcox spent two years as the head coach football coach at Stoneham High School in 2008 and 2009.
“I always wanted to be head coach, but it just never seemed like something that would happen,” said Wilcox, 55. “The job became available this year because Anthony [Petrelis] had to step down, and I figured if I was going to go for it, this was the time to do it.”
His sons, Nathan and Andrew, played football at AC, graduating in 2016 and 2020. His daughter, Kira,is a sophomore soccer player and swimmer at AC.
This week, the Hockomock League was scheduled to celebrate its 30th Scholar-Athlete Awards dinner. However, while the dinner was tabled because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the awards for 24 deserving seniors pushed ahead. Each scholar-athlete was selected by the administration of their respective schools based on academics, athletic participation, sportsmanship, leadership, and citizenship.
The honorees: Jacqueline Lynch-Bartek and Nicholas McMahon (Attleboro); Caroline Tourgee and Nathan Quan (Canton); Jaime Notarangelo and Ryan Proulx (Foxborough); Sarah Spanek and Rohan Herur (Franklin); Samantha Robison and Jack Cannon (King Philip); Eliz Healy and Peter Oldow (Mansfield); Annie Flanagan and Maxwell Manor (Milford); Abigail Gallagher and Owen Harding (North Attleborough); Allison Kemp and Sam Stevens (OIiver Ames); Eliana Boxerman and Cameron Baker (Sharon); Emma McSweeney and Joshua McNamara (Stoughton); Kamryn Li and Nolan Melo (Taunton).
Correspondent Greg Levinsky also contributed.