The Laramie Rangers will play during the 2020 Wyoming American Legion Baseball season after receiving approval Wednesday night.

The Laramie Post 14 American Legion Baseball Board voted to sanction only one team for this summer at the ‘AA’ level. The younger ‘B’ and ‘C’ level teams will not play.

Laramie Legion Manager Aaron Lozano called it a bittersweet moment.

“To be able to have some sort of baseball but to know that not everybody in the program is going to be a part of that.”

Lozano explained that this was a decision put on the board he doesn’t envy.

“It’s not something that when you volunteer for a board of directors for a community organization you don’t think about pandemics when you sign on. It came down to how the board felt they could still put something out there in the name of Post 14 and still keep players safe.”

Baend Buus is the Vice President for the Laramie Ranger Legion Baseball Board of Directors. He pointed to the safety issue when asked why just the one team for 2020.

“The board felt that the best way to minimize the risk to an acceptable level (for Post 14 and the Rangers organization) was to minimize the exposure of kids and coaches. Obviously, the only way to remove the risk completely was no baseball, but then we risked damaging the Rangers organization, possibly irreparably, for years to come. Taking that all into consideration we decided as a board that our greatest minimization of risk while not damaging the organization in the future was to have AA compete, but not B or C.”

The next step for the Rangers will be assembling a roster. The board approved an 18-player roster for this year. Lozano indicated he will offer a spot to every player that is currently a sophomore in high school and on up through this year’s seniors. There is a chance that players may opt-out of playing due to concerns over the COVID-19 pandemic. After that, it will be Lozano and the coaching staff’s choice to fill out the 18-man roster.

The next step will be getting back to practice. Lozano said that will finally happen on Monday.

“I think the main thing we need to do is get out on the field and start seeing where guys are at… and how much we have to start over is going to be important.”

He knows some players have had more of an ability to do baseball-style workouts versus others.

Another hurdle is reworking the Rangers’ schedule.

One change for 2020 that’s been confirmed is Laramie will not host the ‘AA’ Wyoming American Legion Baseball State Tournament in August. Instead, they have traded years with Rock Springs. Archie Hay Post 24 will host Aug. 5-9 at the Paul J. Wataha Recreation Complex. Laramie will now host the state tournament in 2021.

Some of that decision dealt with the possibility that the University of Wyoming may be starting its 2020 fall semester around those dates and hotel availability would be in question.

“We won’t be traveling to any tournaments as a Rangers organization,” said Lozano. “We won’t be hosting any tournaments. That includes the state tournament which is moving to Rock Springs this year, who was supposed to have it next year. A lot of our schedule was built around tournaments. You get a lot of highly competitive games in a tournament. You get to see a lot of new teams that you don’t always get to play outside of a tournament. This year, it’s not going to be that way.”

Lozano explained they’ll have to augment things with a large roster that they get enough games so it’s good for everyone involved. He said they’ll look at more doubleheaders with maybe more of a varsity-JV type feel.

“Roughly 20-25 percent of our original schedule is possible but even that’s not set in stone.”

Lozano mentioned there’s a possibility the ‘AA’ teams around Wyoming may double their conference schedule. It’s something that will be finalized within the next week.

The biggest piece is adjusting to all the guidelines surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic but still being able to play.

“It’s going to be unlike anything I’ve ever approached as a coach. I think the other coaches will agree because we’re still going to have to have a lot of safety guards in place. I speak for the coaching staff, and we take very seriously the risks that are out there and the safeguards that have been put in place, not only by Governor Gordon and our state health officer but our county officer and our board of directors.”

Lozano knows they’ll need some new approaches to keep everyone safe. He also added that flexibility with their practices, the schedule, and more is key.

After some unknown in the last two months, Lozano is happy to have a season, particularly for the seniors. Three of them are going on to play college baseball, and Laramie will be part of the ‘Wyoming’ American Legion Baseball season.

“I can’t wait to practice.”

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