Over 150 coaches, umpires, and baseball administrators from across Montana and Alberta, converged in Bozeman for the second annual American Legion Baseball Winter Meetings at the Best Western Grantree. The weekend included clinics, product release showcases, rules reviews and culminated in the Annual Awards Ceremony crowning the state champs, and presented the Coach of the Year Awards for both the AA and A divisions. The evening was introduced and emceed by Universal Athletic CEO and founder Larry Aasheim, and was highlighted with a keynote speech from Red Sox Pitching coach and pro scout Goose Gregson.
Larry Aasheim was proud to host this event, “It means we get to give back to the athletes and the customers who support UA- it’s reciprocating.” Universal Athletic has been a strong supporter of youth athletics and American Legion Baseball for over 30 years. Tim Hunstinger, Universal Athletic’s inventory Control Manager organized the event. He summed up his experience, “This is a great opportunity for Universal Athletic to be able to give back to the American Legion baseball community of Montana and Alberta, and the great young men who participate in this program. This event brings together the coaches, administrators and umpires from all of Montana and Alberta, and gives them the opportunity to improve their baseball knowledge and to enhance American Legion Baseball in Montana.”
Special Guest Speaker Glen Gregson pitched for 7 years in the minors and has since coached in the minors and majors. In 2009, he is slated to be the pitching coach for the GCL Red Sox. Gregson coached in the Phillies chain in 1979. From 1982-1984, he coached in the Chicago Cubs system. From 1988-1997, he coached in the minor leagues for the Los Angeles Dodgers before joining the major league staff in 1998 as the pitching coach. From 1999-2001, he coached for the Phillies farm teams once again. He moved to the Red Sox system in 2002 and has coached for the GCL Red Sox and also served as the Latin American pitching coordinator.
Gregson’s speech was inspirational to the group. “I have had the opportunity to work with Hall of Fame players from diverse walks of life... Players such as Martinez, Smoltz, Beckett, Schilling, and more… and I have been fortunate to be a part of four World Series championships. Montana represents a trailblazer mentality… a mindset of being able to accomplish anything. Any time I am able to contribute to and invest in the future of youth athletes I feel blessed to play an inspirational role. I applaud Universal Athletic in supporting young athletes and investing in their overall health, well being and accomplishments.”
Special Guest, Brian Knight, who is a MILB umpire, put on an umpire clinic. He has umpired over 120 Major League baseball games per year, over the last three years. Brian also worked the plate in Jon Lester’s no-hitter at Fenway Park in Boston last summer. This was Brian’s first no-hitter in his umpire career.
The night’s awards went to Rob Virginillo (Vauxhall Spurs) for Coach of the Year, Class A, State Champions; Adam Hust (Billings Scarlets) for Coach of the Year Class AA, State Champions; the Butte Muckers, coached by Jim LeProwse, were the recipient of Montana American Legion Umpires Association Sportsmanship award for Class A, which is named in honor of umpire Andy Anderson; and the Kalispell Lakers, coached by Ryan Malmin and Carl Hennell, were recipients of Montana American Legion Umpires Association Sportsmanship award for Class AA.