By Jeff Holt
Published in The Burg February 3, 2022
At press time, the big talk in town seemed to be the NFL with the AFC and NFC Championships. Mahones, Stafford and even Jimmy G.
But what about baseball?
The new coach of the Galesburg Post 285 Legion baseball team, Jeremy Kleine, and his staff have already gained plenty of momentum going into their first season.
They currently have 14 players ready to go for Post 285: 3 from Abingdon HS, 2 from Knoxville HS, 2 from United HS and 7 from Galesburg. The maximum roster size for the American Legion tournament is 18.
"I am waiting to watch the high school season, and to hear from other area coaches," said Kleine. "if they have a player that would fit the mold of an American Legion Baseball player before finalizing the roster."
Soon, you'll have Trivia Night (on Oct. 8) at the Knights of Columbus. You can also buy some raffle tickets for a chance to see the St. Louis Cardinals play.
But recently, Kleine took some time to answer a couple of questions about his legion baseball program.
Q: At this point, what is your schedule looking like?
KLEINE: We currently have 17 games lined up and I’m waiting to hear back from a few other coaches and another tournament possibility. We hope to have 30 to 35 regular season games.
Q: What's been the toughest part of it all and why?
KLEINE: As with any organization, the fundraising is always tough. So many people already give to so many great organizations. Kyle Spencer and Laurie Sykes have done a wonderful job of fundraising and the community has been very gracious already with the donations that have been made. We want to be able to provide the best experience possible for the players.
Q: Up to this point, what's been the fun part of it all?
KLEINE: The fun part has been making the phone call to the young men and hearing their excitement through the phone of being asked to play American Legion Baseball with Post #285. Even though we have not had a baseball team the past four summers, these young men all know about Legion Baseball. They all know at least some of the history of Post #285 and the success we have had in the past. And they want to be a part of the reclaiming that successful program.
Q: What would you like to say to the Galesburg area about legion baseball?
KLEINE: Kyle, Laurie, myself and our coaching staff promise to do our best to produce a quality team and program going forward.
We currently have some of the best players from Galesburg and the surrounding towns. We are looking forward to seeing each community, the players, and their parents, being proud of the product we put on the field and how hard we will compete to represent them.
Q: If someone wanted to help out with the legion program, do you have any spots open (or if you need additional donations)?
KLEINE: We have many opportunities for those who would be interested in donating their time, things like concessions, scorekeeping, announcing at home games, etc. I can still remember Rob Strack announcing home games in the past and that added to the professional atmosphere we try to provide the players and fans. And yes, monetary donations are always welcome.
Q: Do you have any upcoming fundraising events coming up?
KLEINE: I am currently reaching out to former players and/or their parents to see if they would like to sponsor a player by donating money for the player’s uniform. They can pick the uniform number they want to sponsor, except the numbers that have been retired, until we run out of numbers.
(You can contact Jeff Holt at firstname.lastname@example.org)
Assistant Coaches for the 2022 Post 285 Legion baseball team ... Patrick Hise – former Knoxville High School Blue Bullet All-Stater, former #285 player, CSC and Western Illinois University baseball player. Patrick will be invaluable with outfield/first base play, overall defensive positioning, hitting and the mental side of the game, and the first base coach. His son, David, will also be playing for Post 285. John Simkins – former GHS Silver Streak, former #285 player, and played college baseball at Macalester. John will be in charge of our pitching staff and help with the outfield. John will be a huge asset by teaching pitching mechanics, situational fielding, pickoffs, mental toughness lessons and guidance. John also said his arm is still in decent working condition so he can throw some BP. Drake Sykes – former GHS Silver Streak, former #285 player, All-American at Knox College. Drake is currently helping coach at William Penn University. Drake’s main focus will be on hitting and outfield play. Kadin Spencer – former GHS Silver Streak, former Oneida Legion player, current William Penn University player. Kadin was a very good Utility player at GHS, playing both infield and outfield positions for the Western Big 6 Champions. He will share things he has learned from his first season at William Penn and help as needed in all aspects of the game. Logan Sykes – former GHS Silver Streak, former Oneida Legion player, current William Penn University player. Logan had a successful senior year at GHS helping the Streaks win the Western Big 6 title and primarily playing in the outfield. Logan will also share what he has learned at William Penn and help as needed in all aspects of the game.