The Lewis Clark American Legion will be hosting the regional tournament for class “A” Northwest teams for a third time. The eight-team NWCART consists of six state champions, the host team, and a rotating runner-up state team. Along with Idaho, the host site rotates each year between Alaska, Oregon, Montana, Utah and Wyoming.
Class A Legion baseball is designed both for rural, smaller populated areas and for “feeder teams” for larger AA programs. They have the same age-eligibility as the AA teams and follow the SENIOR rules of American Legion Baseball.
In 1981, the NWCART was born out of the need for class “A” and junior American legion teams to have an opportunity to continue on playing after their regular season finished. Since there was no organized programs for this group of players to continue on their season was finished. The state chairmen from Washington (Gary George), Oregon (George McRay), and Idaho (Norbert Heitmann) at their annual baseball conference in Indianapolis discussed putting together a program where their individual Class “A” and junior state champions could get together and have a round robin play-off. In 1984 these gentlemen extended an invitation to Montana (Wayne Davis) and his programs to join them in this tournament. At that time Montana, Oregon, & Washington sent their first and second place teams to the tournament. Idaho, because of its few number of Class “A” programs, only sent their first place team. The following year, the host team began being included in the tournament.
Idaho, Montana and Oregon have been members of the NWCART since its inception. Washington rearranged its legion assignments, and dropped out in 2011. Between 1994 and 2000, North and South Dakota sent teams sporadically to fill the bracket. Wyoming has been a member since 1992. Utah was added in 1999, and Alaska in 2000. At the 2003 American Legion fall conference the state of Utah requested permission to also send a representative to the 2003 NWCART, forming the current makeup of the tournament.
Orofino, led by Coach Bo Cummings, won the initial Northwest Regional in 1981 at Milton-Freewater, Wash. The Merchants defeated Yakima 14-12 in the championship game. Cummings later coached this year’s host, the Lewis Clark Cubs, for five years.
Teams from Washington have won 16 tournaments, followed by Montana and Oregon with seven each. Utah has two championships, and a team representing Canada has one title. Canada competes in the Montana State tournament. Wyoming and Alaska are each looking for their first championship.
Idaho teams have won four titles. Along with Orofino, this year’s participant, Burley won the title in 1999. Bear Lake and Pocatello have also won regional titles. Burley is one of three former regional champions competing this year. The Bitterroot Red Sox from Montana won the title in 1998, 2015 & 2016, and were runners-up in 2000. Hyrum, Utah was the 2011 champion. Cody, representing Wyoming in the field this year, has been runner-up in three-of-the last four regional tournaments, including losing to last year’s champion Layton, Utah.
The Lewis Clark Cubs participated in the Regional for the first time in 1983 as hosts of the tournament. Kennewick, Wash. defeated the Idaho state champion, St. Maries in the championship game. Coach Earl Trigsted’s Cubs went 0-2 in the regional.
In 1986 the Cubs qualified for their second regional action by virtue of being the state runner-up to Pocatello. Coached by Wes Dover, the Cubs went 2-2 at Hamilton, Mont.
The Cubs won their seventh state title in 1995, led by Mike Murphy. After going undefeated in State Tournament, the Cubs advanced to their third Regional, held in Boise, and went 1-2.
In 2000, the Cubs hosted both the State and Regional Tournaments. Coeur d’Alene took home the Idaho State title, and Marysville, Wash. won the regional crown. Marshall Evans coached the Cubs to 2-2 records in both tournaments.
In 2008 the Cubs won their eighth State title. The Cubs went 4-0 in Boise under Coach Justin Miller and advanced to their fifth regional. In Anacortes, Wash. the Cubs went 0-2.