With only two games remaining in its season, one might take a look at the Avon Grove American Legion baseball team's 0-15 overall record and come to the conclusion that its been a horrible year that would be better off forgotten.
Not so fast, though, as there's a little more to the team's story than meets the eye.
For starters, there almost wasn't a team at all this summer.
With turn-out extremely low, the Avon Grove Senior Legion team didn't have enough players to field a squad this season. And if they were unable to field a team, there was a good chance that Avon Grove was going to be voted out of the ultra-competitive Chester County League in 2010.
Enter Rodney Schuibbeo, president of the Avon Grove Legion program. Also the coach of the Avon Grove Cadets 16-year-old baseball team, he was gearing up for the start of their season, which was scheduled to get underway in late May.
"I had already given the deposit for the Cadet team. I had already ordered their uniforms," said Schuibbeo. "We were about to have a roster meeting, that's when I found out we weren't going to have enough kids for our Senior Legion team."
As president of the Avon Grove Legion program, Schuibbeo knew that not fielding a Senior team this summer and possibly losing it in 2010 would be devastating to the program.
So with that in mind, Schuibbeo decided to fold the Cadets and have those 16-year-old players move up to Senior Legion team. He did so reluctantly, because the Chester County Senior Legion League is made up of players who are mostly high school juniors and seniors as well as college freshman. That meant his group of 16 year olds would be playing against players mainly two or three years older.
"I had no choice. I couldn't afford to have no Senior Legion team," said Schuibbeo. "If not the younger kids would not have had a place to play in the future.
"We had no time to prepare for this," added Schuibbeo. "As soon as I got everything settled we had to jump right into the games. We knew going in it was going to be seriously difficult for them to be competitive against kids two and three years older than them. I honestly expected us to get blown out of a lot of games, but that certainly hasn't been the case."
Although they have yet to win a game at 0-15 overall, Avon Grove's young squad has done a very respectable job playing in a league that is arguably the best in the state when it comes to Senior Legion baseball.
Nine of Avon Grove's 15 losses are by five runs or less.
"These are a great group of kids and they've really hung in there," said Schuibbeo. "We've been in almost every game we've played."
This year's experience is only going to benefit this group of players next summer when they are back with the Senior team again.
"Yeah, they are all going to know what they are up against and what to expect," said Schuibbeo. "It's really going to help them in the future."