Generally, the unusual 2020 baseball season for the Springfield Post 176 American Legion team likely will be remembered for taking place despite the COVID-19 pandemic and the various changes and restrictions as a result.
The campaign also will go down as the summer that longtime Springfield manager Al Vaxmonsky earned his 600th career win as the team’s 30-year skipper. His teams have 266 losses.
That victory milestone was achieved July 28 at Wakefield High School in Arlington when Springfield rallied to defeat host Arlington Post 139 by a 10-8 score.
Springfield improved to 7-2 in this summer’s shortened season after trailing Arlington 8-2 early in the game.
“We made some changes and our guys really battled back. I was pleased with how they played,” Vaxmonsky said.
Vaxmonsky, who is 73 and still regularly pitches batting practice with good velocity, did not tell his players the victory was his 600th.
“As long as my body holds up, I plan to keep coaching and throwing BP,” Vaxmonsky said.
Springfield and five other District 17 teams are playing a shortened schedule this summer in the one-year Virginia Independent Veterans Baseball League, because American Legion canceled its seasons on all levels as a result of the pandemic.
Vaxmonsky began managing Springfield in 1990. In those 30 years, his teams have won 10 District 17 tournament championships (the last in 2017) and have had multiple runner-up finishes. From 1995 to 1999, Springfield won five straight district crowns.
Springfield’s best finish in the state tournament under Vaxmonsky was second twice in 1996 and 1998 with a third as well.
He often manages in the District 17 July 4 all-star game and helps run the league in various manners.
In the district, Springfield often battles Vienna Post 180 for the championship, which could be the case again this summer in the independent season.
Springfield has won 20 or more games in a season 21 times under Vaxmonsky.
Back in 1990, Vaxmonsky was approached about managing Springfield by the post’s commander.
“I remember I told him I’d do it for one year and see how it goes,” Vaxmonsky said. “This is addicting. You get to know so many great kids, you become part of the community, you share things together with the players and you see them and help them develop.”
The regular season ends on July 30 for Springfield, then the district tournament begins Aug. 1 and 2. Springfield will be the No. 1, 2 or 3 seed.