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30th Hillbilly Hardball Classic canceled

ELKINS — For the first time in 30 years, local baseball diamonds will not feature the annual Hillbilly Hardball Classic, which has been canceled due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Chris George, Elkins Post 29 Baseball president and general manager and Hillbilly Hardball Classic president, said the cancellation of the event did not come easy.

“I waited as long as I could,” George said. “We could not wait any longer to make the decision.”

George explained 20 states have canceled American Legion seasons, including Maryland and Pennsylvania.

“We have a lot of teams that travel from out of state,” he said. “No one wants to stay in hotels right now. (Teams) are low on funds right now because they have not been able to get out and fundraise.”

George said that, during the last three or four years, all the hotels in the Elkins and Buckhannon area have been booked for the tournament and rooms were also being filled in Lewis and Harrison counties. He said the tournament also helped fill local restaurants.

“It is a huge loss,” George said. “(But) we need to be safe.”

George also serves as the assistant chairman for West Virginia American Legion Baseball and said there is a proposed plan to have some baseball action this summer.

“I have a plan that I have proposed,” George said. “We are going to have a conference call with league officials later this week.”

George said if the situation surrounding coronavirus improves, he has proposed starting an American Legion season in July and having a state tournament in August. He said the main factors in having the season are “safety, travel and cost.”

George said he hopes to have more information on a possible season following the conference call slated for later this week.

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