Veterans continue to raise funds for American Legion Post 6 baseball
For the past 53 years, the American Legion Berens-Scriber
Post 6 of Stevens Point has supported youth baseball in Stevens Point, including the Post 6 Sixers
American Legion baseball team.
Each year the Legion Post donates funds to the Sixer program
for the season, which runs each summer from June through August for baseball
players 15 to 19 years old.
Post 6 Commander Dave Strelke and First Vice Commander Dennis
Kaminski presented a check to Sixers board members Thursday, May 19, to help
the program fulfill its obligation for insurance and equipment for its upcoming
“We’ve had such great support from the Post, with their
generosity in helping us get started,” said Sixers president Luke Suchon. “It
basically pays for our baseballs and our pre-season equipment and hats and
stuff like that for the year.
“Our fundraising doesn’t really start until the season
starts,” he said. “So it really goes a long way in getting the baseball program
jump started for the season.”
“Each year we give them a stipend in support of the team,
and we’ve come to support them during the season,” said Strelke. “The only
regret I’ve got is we don’t support like we used to, because of the fact that
we’re all getting older.”
Along with financial support, members of Post 6 have also
volunteered to work hours to help out the Sixers program over the last 53
Each year a number of veterans have worked at the ticket
booths for the Sixers’ home tournaments, while Bob Kowalski has cooked
hamburgers, brats and hot dogs at the concession stand for the team’s
tournaments the last 25 years.
The Color Guard for Post 6 has also been present at all
Sixer home tournaments, including the Firecracker Classic Fourth of July
Weekend, for the National Anthem before the first game of each tournament and
before each championship game.
This year, the Color Guard for Post 6 also donated funds to
help the Sixers purchase two new sets of uniforms, for both the Senior and
Junior Sixer teams.
“The legionnaires do a lot for us, and it’s not just that
stuff, it’s a lot of behind-the-scenes support,” said Suchon. “They’re always
there for us.
“We’re not a form of the Post, we’re sponsored by them, so
for us, it’s a privilege to go out and play Legion Baseball and have Post 6 on
our jerseys,” he said. “And it’s truly an honor that they’re able to help us
the way that they do.”
For one of its main fundraisers, the American Legion Post 6
holds a luncheon for the public at Bukolt Park each Memorial Day, after they
presented the colors and provided the firing squad during a number of flag
presentations earlier in the day.
Post 6 has 320 members, but Strelke said about 15 percent show
up for the meetings and help with volunteer work.
“I’m 74 years old, and I would say the average age in the
Legion is 75,” said Strelke. “We’re not getting new ones coming in.
“We are constantly recruiting,” he said. “We get them to
join sometimes, and then two years later, they drop.”
Strelke said you don’t have to be a legionnaire to come out
to a ballgame, and he hopes people come out and watch the Sixers more, and
support the young ballplayers.
“I played at this field before Legion baseball, I played
Babe Ruth here at this field,” said Strelke of Bukolt. “And I think for the
young men to get involved in Legion baseball, it’s definitely a plus for them.
“Not only on the field,” he said. “But I think they’re
probably better students too.”
“The first speech I give every single year when we get
together, whether it be a player meeting or a parent meeting, is that, ‘the
reason we’re able to play Legion baseball is because of those guys that fought
for us and represented our country,’” said Suchon. “The Firecracker Classic,
it’s not lost that it’s Fourth of July Weekend, it’s pretty cool that we get to
share that with those Legion members, and I think that’s what makes this whole
program so special.
“It’s that connection and that kind of camaraderie,” he
said. “You have multiple generations coming together, from veterans from World
War II all the way down to 15-year-old kids, and it’s really neat, and I don’t
think it’s lost on our players.
“They like having the Post members around, to see these guys
and to get that support, because a lot of times they give stories, like, ‘hey,
I remember when I played Legion ball,’ and ‘I remember when I played here and I
did this,’” he said. “It’s really cool and special that they get to share that
with those guys.”