After being the manager for Independence Post 21 in 2016 and 2017, Tom Bush decided to take to go back to the Blue Springs Rod’s Sports A’s as an assistant coach before being named the manager for the 2019 season when Mike Rooney retired from his field duties.
Post 21 couldn’t find a manager for the AAA senior team, so it didn’t field a team in 2018. But this season, Greg Lundquist has stepped up to take that role, and Post 21 will play in the American Legion Zone 2 league after a one-year hiatus.
“I am accustomed to high-level baseball; I played with (former Major League Baseball player and William Chrisman High School graduate) Russ Morman.” Lundquist said. “Independence was always a very competitive baseball town. The past few years, that has gone away a little bit.”
Lundquist, who played for Post 21 in the 1980s, will be aided by former Post 21 player and Truman High School graduate Myles Odom, who will be the head coach and handle field duties.
Last year, players from Fort Osage, Truman and William Chrisman high schools had to find other Legion teams to join such as the A’s. Post 21 returning now gives those who go to high schools in Independence a chance to play summer baseball.
Lundquist said that eight of his players were promoted from the AA junior team from last year, and he picked up others from Fort Osage and Van Horn. One of those is sophomore Cooper Sumpter, who played catcher for Van Horn.
“I like the way their schedule is set up and they seemed like a good program,” said Sumpter, who is playing American Legion baseball for the first time. “I paid so much money to play on competitive baseball teams and this is the exact same thing, but even better.”
The manager said the team is solid all the way around but doesn’t have an elite hitter or pitcher. He and his son Brett, who plays on the team, still expects his team to compete with the teams in Zone 2 like the A’s, Sedalia Post 642 Travelers and Blue Springs Post 499 Fike.
“I think we will be able to compete pretty good,” said Brett Lundquist, who will play infield and pitch. “We have some strong kids, so we should be doing better than in years past. We can’t wait to get out there and see what we can do.”
Some of those who will also handle pitching duties include Cody Pleacher, Alex Lewis and Blake Hudson.
Sumpter could play in the infield and at catcher; Bryce Greenwald will likely see time at catcher; and Lewis is expected to flip between the outfield and first base when he’s not pitching. Shye McQueen and Mason Chance are candidates to start in the outfield. Others will be competing for some of the other remaining spots.
“We don’t have any strengths and don’t really have any weaknesses either,” Greg Lundquist said. “We’re just solid players up and down the lineup. We don’t have a superstar, but it would be nice to have one.”
For his team, the goals are simple for the new manager.
“I just want to get better and keep the mistakes down,” Lundquist said. “If we can do that, we will be fine.
“There will be a learning curve there. I am thinking three or four games.”