by Scott Sacry
On Monday, January 17th, the Montana High School Association had its annual meeting in Butte and voted to adopt high school baseball, with the first games to be played in the spring of 2023. Montana was one of only three states who didn’t have high school baseball, along with Wyoming and South Dakota. The new ruling will change all of that.
Stevensville’s Athletic Director Chance Edman spearheaded this effort by submitting an official request to the MHSA in December of 2020. “At the time, there was a local groundswell movement in our district to get baseball started,” says Edman. “I just kind of rode the wave and got it going with the request.” From there a survey was conducted to see if there was enough interest to form a committee, which there was, then the committee saw enough demand to call for Monday’s vote.
The measure needed a majority to pass and Edman estimates that the vote was 110-45 in favor. After years of not having baseball in Montana it seems like everything finally aligned for it to become a reality. After previous failed attempts Edman felt it was hard to gauge how the vote would turn out. “After all these years it just seems like it was just the right time to do it, and the majority wanted it done.”
Going forward each individual district will have to decide if they want to have a team or not. Some of the potential issues in making a decision will include money, field space, and scheduling. Each district’s situation is unique and everyone will handle it differently. When asked how many schools will choose to have baseball, Edman said, “It’s hard to predict, but I think we’ll see a lot of schools joining.”
There had been concern that high school baseball would take away from American Legion Baseball, but Edman thinks they will be able to work together. “I think having high school baseball will only help expand the playing pool in the state, improving the quality of the players and improving the overall quality of baseball in Montana,” said Edman. “Legion is a long season, and some kids might not be up for that long of a commitment, but I think the high school format will attract some players who might not otherwise play.”
Along with the baseball decision, the MHSA also agreed to adopt a 35 second shot clock for basketball starting next year.