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Elkins has had just two legion champions

August 8, 2012
EDGAR?KELLEY IN?THE?BOX , The Inter-Mountain

With the caliber of teams and players that have been a part of Elkins baseball over the years, many folks probably think that the American Legion squad has won quite a number of state titles.

But in the 62 year history of legion baseball in Elkins, just two teams have been crowned state champion -this year's squad and the team of 1977.

"With all the players and good teams the Elkins area has had, you would think there would be more than two American Legion state champs," Elkins Post 29 General Manager Chris George said. "But for some reason or another, there's only been to squads to ever win it all."

The title team of 35 years ago has brought back many memories for several players on that squad, including Tygarts Valley High School Principle Steve Wamsley, who was a member of the team.

"I was just a kid back then, but I remember we were big and had a lot of pitching," Wamsley said. "We had a lot of fun that summer and most of us who were on that team, are still very good friends today."

The 1977 squad went undefeated in the state tournament and defeated Wheeling in the state championship game at Elkins' Bluegrass Park.

Former Elkins High School basketball coach and current Davis &?Elkins College men's assistant, Roy Simms, was also a member of the team. As was former Alderson-Broaddus athletic director J.D. Long, and former Elkins Post 29 baseball coach Tim Hornick.

Jeff Nida, John Rohrbough, Lonnie Fansler, Blaine Nelson, Dave Davis, Keith Bennett, Rob Schoonover and Gary Shoemaker were also on the squad, which was managed by Glen Gainer. John Gainer and Sparky Burr were assistant coaches of the team.

Elkins advanced to regional play in Hagerstown (Md.) that season and won its first two games before eventually being eliminated.

"The thing I remember most about that team is that we all loved the game of baseball," Wamsley said. "We really enjoyed playing together and being around each other."

Wamsley, Schoonover, Davis, Hornick and Fansler all went on to play together at Davis & Elkins College, where they all were part of the 1981 WVIAC?championship team.

No matter how this year's state title team fares in regional competition, they can stake a claim that they are just one of two teams to ever win an American Legion state championship

And it nothing else, the players have made friendships that will last for years to come, just like the 1977 team did.



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