Tenn. team plays baseball on the Last Frontier
After two years, a group of baseball players from the Volunteer State are back in Alaska.
The American Legion Post 19 group from Columbia, Tenn. has become a mainstay at Anchorage's annual BP Invitational Baseball Tournament at Mulcahy Stadium. The Post 19 group makes the trip every other year.
"It's really pretty. Everything is just breathtaking, like what you see on cards and stuff, but, once you get here, it's totally different," said player Matthew Joslin.
"It's stuff you wouldn't expect, stuff you see in movies, stuff you see in photographs, you wouldn't think it's real until you get here," said player Colton Teal.
The trip north is the second for Post 19 Assistant Coach Garrett Ammons.
"Oh man, Alaska never disappoints," Ammons said, before his team took the field against the South Wolverines. "It's been absolutely great, I think it gets better every day."
Anchorage is the team's fourth and final stop on a tour including Fairbanks, Wasilla and Kenai.
Alaska Airlines is sponsoring the tour, for what airline spokesperson Marilyn Romano says is a simple vision.
"Alaska kids out playing baseball, competing against one another, learning those valuable lessons about competition in such a wonderful place in the summer," Romano said.
Post 19's players are excited to be back in Alaska -- but there's also sadness.
Players and coaches wear the number 8 on their jerseys. It honors Bobby Bratton, who played for Post 19 in 2004 and 2005 but died of cancer eight months ago.
"We wanted to honor him, and play for him this year," Ammons said.
While Alaskans may consider this week's weather a heat wave, it's vacation weather for the visitors.
"It's absolutely beautiful up here, it's not as hot as Columbia," said player Noah Brock.
"I looked a couple of days ago, the heat index was 105, a whole lot hotter there than it is here," Ammons said.
Another plus for Post 19's players is the view.
"The only thing to look at back home is take-out restaurants, so, this is a very big change of pace," Brock said.
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