While there certainly is a rift brewing among area American Legion posts and their baseball teams, John Smith said that particular rift is not why there is no team in Delaware County this summer.

While there certainly is a rift brewing among area American Legion posts and their baseball teams, John Smith said that particular rift is not why there is no team in Delaware County this summer.

"Absolutely not," said Smith, the commander of Post 115, which had sponsored three teams in the past and had two last season.

"It hurts us not to have baseball as much as it does the players and coaches involved," Smith said. "We're very disappointed and this is a very awkward time for us. Our manager, Mike Milligan, came to us two weeks before the sign-up date and told us he was job searching and needed to take this time to find a job. In today's economy, that's very understandable."

Smith said that Milligan asked members of his coaching staff if they were interested, but they declined to accept the managing position as well.

"Basically, we just couldn't find anyone to coach this year and that's all it comes down to," Smith said. "We hope to have Mike Milligan back next year."

Milligan could not be reached for comment this week.

The problem which arose in central Ohio the past couple of seasons is the changing philosophy of American Legion baseball.

In other parts of the state, most Legion teams still are comprised of standouts from different high schools within the Posts' jurisdiction. But with a growing number of high schools opening in central Ohio, Posts began sponsoring two or more teams to allow more kids to play.

High schools coaches, however, have tried to influence Legion coaches to keep their players together as an extension of the spring high school season.

For instance, in Dublin, Post 800 has three teams -- 800C (Coffman), 800S (Scioto) and 800J (Jerome).

For several years, Hilliard Post 614 had one team for Davidson High School's varsity (A) and one for its junior varsity (B), plus one for Darby High School (C). This season, Davidson has three teams -- A for graduates and top returnees, B for juniors and some sophomores and D for the remainder.

There are several high schools for Post 115 to draw from, including Buckeye Valley, Delaware Hayes, Olentangy, Olentangy Liberty, Olentangy Orange and Big Walnut.

In 2007, Hayes had 14 players, including graduates, who wanted to play for Post 115.

"I had 14 players contact me and tell me they wanted to play last summer, but when we went to Post 115, they had three roster spots for our kids," Hayes coach Mike Yinger said. "If we gave them three, we had 11 left over who wanted to play, and that's not enough to make another team for travel ball or whatever. What do I say to those 11 guys? So we went our own way and formed the Delaware Junior Cows, and I got criticized for that."

Smith immediately thought that what was happening in Dublin and Hilliard was repeating itself in Delaware County.

"High school coaches wanted to keep their players together and they're screwing things up, destroying American Legion Baseball," Smith said. "I went to Athens three times last year for the state tournament and the teams who make it there are the traditional Legion teams, not the high school teams playing an exhibition season or having tryouts for the following spring."

Yinger agreed with Smith, but said his situation was different.

"We should have the top three or four players from every high school in the county on the Legion team," he said. "In fact, with Orange opening next year, we should probably have three teams separated by talent, not schools. I assure you, that if we did that, all of the high school coaches in this county would favor that."

Big Walnut coach Chad Thrush could see both sides of the issue.

"Well, you have high school coaches looking out for their best interests, and you have traditional Legion Baseball that usually had no more than five kids from one team," he said. "But now you've got Posts with two, three and four teams and only two three or four schools. Well, that depletes the talent pool. And when you have that many teams, why not separate the kids into their high schools for familiarity and team closeness?

"I think the responsibility lies with the Posts. If they want traditional Legion Baseball, they need to sponsor fewer teams and make sure the coach they select will be fair to all the kids from all the high schools in that region. You can't have one Legion team filled mostly with kids from one school and not accept kids from the other schools there. You need to make sure you delegate things and represent everyone."

Thrush said he has three players competing for Johnstown Post 254 and two for Ashley Post 518. In addition, Big Walnut plays a 20-game schedule against teams from Marion during the 10-day contact period high school coaches are allotted in the offseason.

"We play 10 doubleheaders on the days we're allowed to have contact," Thrush said. "We play Mondays and Thursdays for five weeks against the Marion teams, like Harding, Elgin and Pleasant. We also have kids playing travel ball, that's why we schedule our games on Mondays and Thursdays. Then they can compete in weekend tournaments on travel teams."

Olentangy coach Steve Little said he has one player playing for Prospect Post 368 and many playing travel ball. Plus, Olentangy plays in an OCC summer league as well.

Liberty and Buckeye Valley have many players competing for Ashley Post 518 this summer.

"I just think that the high school teams have watered down the system, and, if it continues to happen and that's all that remains are high school teams, when it comes to the state tournament, scouts will no longer be there to watch these kids," Smith said. "They already have a state high school playoff, so why repeat it in the summer?"