Two generations of baseball players or coaches were serving 10-ounce ribeye steaks at the April 23 fund-raiser for the American Legion Post 55 Baseball program.

Two generations of baseball players or coaches were serving 10-ounce ribeye steaks at the April 23 fund-raiser for the American Legion Post 55 Baseball program.

Among them was Deanie Wealder, coach of the American Legion Junior Team (AA), who introduced his children, Wyatt (a member of his team and Hannibal High junior) and Willa, a sixth grader.

Wealder, who will be joined by coaches Ian Hatton and Blane Mundle for the AA team, added he finds coaching rewarding and believes, “Sports keep them busy and out of trouble. I take pride in that.”

Dennis McMillen, coach of the Senior (AAA) team, was busy grilling the 10-ounce ribeye steaks to order outside the American Legion Hall in Hannibal.

The A team will be coached by Brian Stone, Jamie Locke and Richard Hinkle, according to Mike Riney, American Legion Baseball chairman.

The tryout date for all three teams will be Sunday, April 30, beginning at 3 p.m. at Veterans Elementary School baseball field, Riney reported. No advance registration is required, he added. “Just show up.” A second tryout date is May 7 at the same time and place.

The AAA team is for boys ages 19 and under; the AA team for ages 17 and under; and the A team for boys 16 and under. The minimum age is 13.

The 2017 game schedule begins Memorial Day weekend with the Hannibal Tournament. The season continues until mid-July.

Players not charged any fees

Riney was pleased to report, “We spent $20,000 last year, and we raised it ourselves. Our players are not charged.”

Players come from several area cities, he said. In 2016 they were from nine high schools: Canton, Hannibal, Highland, Palmyra, Mark Twain, Monroe City, Vandalia, Clark County and Bowling Green.

Many players start in the A team and “go through the whole program,” he said, and “the big majority play college ball.” He was proud that “for three years in a row, our A team has gone to state.”

Claude White, tournament director, announced the first local tournament this season will be May 28 to 30 with 13 teams competing. Games will be played at Clemens Field, Veterans field and Palmyra High School.

White, who coached for 10 years before becoming tournament director, reported baseball is rewarding for both coaches and players, because coaches take kids from several cities, “and jell them together as a team.”

He added, “It's rewarding for boys to be building more friendships. When I coached, we played a very competitive schedule. We went to St. Louis and beat big teams. My last group's record was 105 wins and 27 losses.

He noted that a youth tournament is scheduled. “We have 19 teams coming in for the youth tournament the week before Memorial Day. They will play at Bear Creek Sports Park. This is a fund-raiser.”

For more details about the individual teams call McMillen at 573-822-7170, Waelder at 573-248-8756 or Stone at 217-653-8868.

See photo gallery for more pictures of the steak dinner.

Reach reporter Bev Darr at bev.darr@courierpost.com.