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By Michael Abramson
Despite only having one full year under its belt, the Menlo Park Legends semi-pro baseball team is not curbing its expectations.
"We want to win league then go to Wichita and play for a national championship, simple as that," said David Klein, the manager, starting catcher, and founder of the Legends, and a Menlo-Atherton High School grad. "I don't think there is any reason we shouldn't win league."
The Legends are 11-4 so far, the most impressive victory a 2-1 nail-biter on the road against the San Luis Obispo Rattlers on June 21, a team Klein described as "our first real test." The Legends gave up only four hits in the game and finished with Menlo-Atherton grad Corey Zirbes throwing three scoreless innings of one-hit ball.
Nevertheless, the Legends recently hit a bit of a bump in the road, dropping two games to the Santa Barbara Foresters on June 22 and 23 by scores of 5-3 and 6-3. The Foresters are the 2006 and 2008 National Baseball Congress national champs and except for 2002, the California Collegiate League champs every year since 1993.
Still, the Legends put up 17 hits in the two games, and simply competing against one of the best semi-pro teams in the country speaks volumes.
Playing in the Pacific-West Baseball League, the Legends compete against six other teams from around the Bay Area. The league is competitive, but Klein says: "This team is going to be playing for a long time and will keep going up every year. I expect to join the Tri-State League next year."
Despite the team's relative infancy compared to many other semi-pro teams, several high-profile players agreed to join this year. Ben Clowe, Jack Mosbacher, Kellen McColl, and Ryan Sakowski are all current players on the Stanford baseball team.
Other players draw from Division 1 schools such as UC Santa Barbara, University of San Diego, New Mexico State, University of San Francisco, UC Berkeley, Miami, USC, and Columbia.
Center fielder Daniel Johnston, an M-A grad and now a student at Canada College, was just drafted in the 47th round of the Major League Baseball draft by the Florida Marlins.
The Legends wrap up a five-game home stand Wednesday, June 30, against the San Francisco Seagulls. Game time is 5 p.m. at Bettencourt Field at M-A High, 555 Middlefield Road in Menlo Park, the Legends' home diamond.
Hats, jerseys and shirts are sold at every Legends home game. Hats can be purchased for $25 and shirts are available for $15.
Kids can still sign up for four of the Legends' weeklong summer baseball camps. The camps, for players ages 6 to 15, are put on by Legends players at M-A High and last one week each.
Visit this site for more information on the camps.
The Legends have expanded recently to form a semi-pro summer basketball team. The team will play in the Burgess Men's A-League and likely several tournaments throughout the summer, as well. Charlie Peck will act as player/coach of the team, similar to David Klein's position with the baseball team.
Klein does have a message for another local semi-pro team: "I really want to take on the Palo Alto Oaks, but they don't want to play us. They beat us last year, so I've got a little vengeance for them. They have an open invitation to play us, anytime, anywhere."