While some student athletes are participating in various summer workouts and others may have even down-shifted into vacation mode, a group of Moriarty baseball players spent the past month participating in Albuquerque’s American Legion Baseball program.

American Legion Baseball, commonly referred to as Legion baseball or simply Legion ball, is a summer program for student athletes across the U.S. between 13 and 19 years old. Legion ball generally runs from mid-May through June or early July.

According to its website, Legion ball was established by the American Legion in the 1920s and currently sponsors nearly 4,000 teams nationwide.

This year there were 22 Legion baseball teams in the Albuquerque area that were aligned with a high school and divided into two groups: Legion A teams for older players, and Legion B for younger players.

Moriarty fielded a Legion B team comprising one seventh-grader, four incoming freshman, and “the rest were mostly sophomores,” according to Denny Young, Moriarty High School’s varsity head coach.

“It’s just about them, their time, getting your swings in and just playing baseball,” Young said.

Two of the incoming freshmen on Moriarty’s team were Aidan Howe and Richard Rodriguez.

“It’s been a real cool experience,” Howe said. “I like the competition and getting a feel for high school baseball.”

“It’s fun but it’s also a little harder because some of the kids pitch pretty fast,” added Rodriguez.

During a lopsided game on June 26 against Hope Christian’s Legion B team at Moriarty High’s field, two Tijeras brothers—Evan and Brandon Bagon—played for Hope’s team.

Brandon, a varsity player who was just filling in because Hope’s team was shorthanded, said, “I wasn’t doing anything else, so it was good to get some extra reps.”

Evan, a rising sophomore and regular player on the team, added, “It’s really fun—it feels good to hit the ball and hear the crack of the bat. The score was like 20-something to 4.”

Young, who has been organizing Moriarty’s Legion teams for several years, said it’s not about winning games but developing the younger players.

“This is the most youthful group we’ve had,” Young said. “We’re not here to keep score, we take notes, keep track of what we need to work on and we get to see them in a game situation—and look to the future a little bit.”