Mint Hill American Legion Baseball Celebrates Successful Season

"The Boys of Summer" 2019 American Legion Baseball Team. (Ed Berti)
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Mint Hill’s Jake McDaniel delivers a strike. (Ed Berti)
Grant Harrell in the Press Box during the season. (Ed Berti)

The ‘Boys of Summer” celebrated their annual year end farewell party at the Hill Restaurant in downtown Mint Hill on Sunday with teammates, coaches, and team fixture Grant Harrell, who does many jobs for this ball club from official scorer, lights, scoreboard, and more.

Grant Harrell an Independence High School graduate, a huge and very knowledgeable baseball fanatic has been coming to all the home games for nineteen years. He is also a fixture at Independence baseball games every spring around campus assisting the team during home ball games at the stadium.

Some of the key players are moving on to college to play collegiate baseball. This includes standouts Sam Kagan, J.D. Yakubinis, Shane Russell, Mike Dansky, C.J. Brown, while others return to college for their sophomore year including Corbin Berkovics, Bubba Comer, Matt Mangum, and Jake McDaniel who will not be eligible next season. Hopefully, many of the key high school players who will be playing their senior season will be returning next summer, and the college freshman return for their final year of eligibility giving this team a strong nucleus to make a run at a possible state title. Noah Howie, “Mr. Hustle” the Independence all-conference player who made a solid contribution would still be eligible for one final season if he returns for a final run.

When a reporter covers a team, you get to know the players and coaches you become part of their family and better understand the grind they go through to play 30-35 games during a short eight week season. This team had a solid 21-10 record, won their division during the regular season, lost three heart breakers in the playoffs, two in extra innings, and just fell one game short of qualifying and competing in the final round of the state championship tournament eventually won by Wilmington Post 10 who defeated Funkstown, MD Post 211, 14-4 in the opening round of the Mid-Atlantic American Legion Baseball national tournament in Asheboro, NC on Wednesday.

They displayed sportsmanship, competitiveness, teamwork, and a can do attitude throughout the season with several important come from behind late inning wins. The young men also exemplified the values of American Legion Baseball which include Americanism, respect, courage, patriotism, and more. These values build character, they help turn young men into productive adults and good citizens of our local communities and nation.

We wish the players much success and thank them for giving Mint Hill another exciting season of summer baseball at a high level of competition. We look forward to May 2020 when the coaches hold tryouts and form a senior and junior team who will compete in American Legion Baseball representing Mint Hill throughout the state.

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Ed Berti
Ed is retired and remains active as a freelance writer, local journalist and independent contractor. He is engaged in print and electronic media writing stories covering business, sports, hometown news and veteran's affairs including articles of interest to various media outlets. Ed is a graduate of Wagner College where he earned an MBA and holds a BBA from Pace University.
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