St. Paul, MN - There’s a new dimension to the Minnesota American Legion Baseball State Tournaments this summer, and that’s the pitch count.
“In Legion Baseball we have always tried to watch the arms,” said State Legion Baseball Director Mike Perry. “Prior to this year, our pitching rule was 12 innings over 3 days and 4 appearances. This is nothing new for us.”
Pitch-count rules have replaced the inning counts as the barometer for keeping pitchers on the safe side. Now, if a pitcher throws between 76 and 120, he is done for the tournament. One hundred-twenty is the absolute limit in one day. Once that total is reached, the pitcher must be removed.
With the new rules in place, each pitch has to be counted in every game. Edina Legion Baseball General Manager Nick Kennedy has coordinated that effort with the help of Pete Waggoner and a battery of young men, with sharp minds and keen concentration.
Matt Baker from Moorhead, who is known around the tournament as “The Pitching Coach,” is responsible for sending pitch-count information to each team in the tournament.
“There were approximately 3,500 pitches thrown in the 16 games played on Friday,” said Mike Perry. “By 8 the next morning, each head coach had the pitch counts from the first day. Matt took snapshots and sent them to the coaches.”
“The farther along you are in the tournament, the easier it gets,” said Baker. “Our system is working well. Our totals matched up with what the coaches had, and we have been ready to go every day.”
Director Perry praised Minnesota’s Legion coaches for their efforts to promote arm safety.
“We have 1,111 Legion Baseball coaches registered in Minnesota this year,” he said. “They are all conscious of arm safety. This was the first year that the pitch counts were used during the high school baseball season, and I thought the Minnesota State High School League did a great job of putting its model together.”
Perry added that there is one aspect of arm safety that Legion Baseball officials cannot control. That is what the young pitchers do when they’re not with their American Legion teams.
“In most cases, we have no way of knowing what the players are doing when they are not with their American Legion teams,” he said.
Matt Baker (left) meets with his pitch-counting buddies Nick Azar, Carter Theis and Walter Brandt.