Trenton's time to shine: Small town hosts state Legion tournament

News-DemocratJuly 30, 2013 

— This small community of about 2,800 residents -- 3,000 if you count a few subdivisions tucked just outside the city limits -- certainly wouldn't be considered a major hub by any stretch of the imagination.

It doesn't even have a hotel.

Yet, Trenton will be the site of the American Legion State Baseball Tournament this week.

The tourney runs Wednesday through Saturday at Pete Schumacher Field in Trenton Community Park.

"It's pretty special that we have it, and we're real excited for the opportunity to showcase Trenton," Trenton manager Kyle Jones said. "We're a small town, but there is a lot of nice things about living in a small town. We're a tight-knit community. I think people that come into town will realize that we're friendly. It's a good place to live and we enjoy our baseball."

Jones' job is to promote Trenton since he also serves as the mayor of the city.

"The bad part in all of this is with me being the mayor it makes it seem like Mayberry a little bit, but I promise you that it is not that way," Jones said, referring to the fictional community in the popular 1960s sitcom, "The Andy Griffith Show."

"We're very proud of our park. Not just the field, but the park itself. I think people that come into town will see how much we care about our park. It's well-maintained and ready to go for the tournament. It's kind of the gem of the city."

Pete Schumacher Field bears the name of the man who has been the caretaker of the baseball diamonds in Trenton since 1961.

Schumacher also has served as the general manager of the Legion baseball team for the past 35 years.

"They expect me to be dead because usually fields are named after dead people," said Schumacher, who turns 74 on Aug. 12. "I always tell people, 'This is what I'll look like when I'm dead."'

Trenton Post 778 hosted the Junior Legion State Tournament in 2005, but Schumacher said being the host for the Senior Legion State Tournament carries much more financial responsibility.

"You take on the responsibility of lodging these teams and paying for their food," Schumacher said. "And, we have to pay the umpires and all the other expenses that go with it. It's about a $25,000 budget we had to come up with. We did that through ad sales for our ad booklet and we're having a big raffle on Saturday for either an I-pad or $500. That's how we offset our expenses."

All the teams will be staying at the Holiday Inn in Highland, and each team was given a list of hotels in surrounding communities where its fans could stay.

Each night, a special event is planned, starting with a banquet for the six participating teams on Tuesday night at the St. Mary Parish Center.

Wednesday is American Legion Night with a special member of each Clinton County post recognized. Former POW Vince Rolves will throw out the first pitch.

Thursday is City Officials and Organizations Night.

Members of Trenton's 1983 team will be honored on Friday night in celebration of the 30th anniversary of it's state championship.

Because it's the host team, Trenton receives an automatic berth in the State Tournament even though it was knocked out of the playoffs by Aviston in the championship game of the District 23 Tournament more than a week ago.

"We've practiced and done everything we can to keep the guys prepared," Jones said. "The advantage we have is all our pitching is rested and all of our guys are fresh. All of the teams that are there are great teams. Anything can happen in baseball."

Trenton enters the state tournament with a respectable 17-13 record. It will play defending state champion and defending Great Lakes Regional champion Moline (32-9) at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday.

Trenton's top hitters are Michael Klein, Brady Kunz, Chase Klein, Alex Quitmeyer and Keith Haselhorst.

Jared Kues and Grant Weber are the aces of its pitching staff.

"They're not overpowering in terms of their velocity, but they change speeds well, they throw strikes, they are around the plate." Jones said of his pitchers. "If our defense makes plays, they'll keep us in ballgames."

Jones, who was elected as mayor in May, will be stepping down after four years as Post 778's manager once the season is over so he can focus on city matters.

"When you're an elected official, if you have any friends you lose them in a hurry," Jones joked. "Me being the coach, I don't have hardly any friends."

Edwardsville, winners of the Fifth Division Tournament last week in Fairview Heights, is the only other metro-east squad in the State Tournament.

Edwardsville (29-6) will play Elk Grove (29-6) at 3 p.m. Wednesday.

The championship game of the double-elimination tourney is slated for 11 a.m. Saturday, with a second game at 3 p.m. if necessary.

The winner will advance to Great Lakes Regional in Terre Haute, Ind.

Contact reporter Steve Korte at skorte@bnd.com or 239-2522.

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