Idaho Falls honors Bandits world series victory with parade and rally
IDAHO FALLS – Members of the community gathered along Memorial Drive in downtown Idaho Falls Tuesday evening for a parade and rally celebrating the Idaho Falls Bandits world series victory last week.
The American Legion Baseball team beat Hawaii 6-1 during a championship game in Shelby, North Carolina last Wednesday. A small group met them in the Melaleuca parking lot early Thursday morning as they arrived back in Idaho Falls.
During the parade, the Bandits were escorted by first responders and team sponsors along Broadway to the courthouse at 605 North Capital Avenue, where Mayor Rebecca Casper officially proclaimed it Idaho Falls Bandits Day.
“Players, right now the whole city is excited to take time to honor your impressive accomplishment,” Casper said to the team on the courthouse lawn. “Wins like this are an absolute rarity.”
Others who spoke at the rally include American Legion Post 56 Board Vice President Cliff Brady and President Mike White.
White began his remarks with a quote from the popular baseball movie, “Field of Dreams.”
“If you build it,” White said, pointing to a Bandits hat. “They (the Bandits) will come.”
“As you can tell by my age, my playing days are long over,” White continued. “I will never feel the crunch of the cleats on the concrete on my way to the field anymore, the smell of fresh-cut grass walking on the field, the smell of leather breaking in a mitt every new season or the grit of dirt after a long, dusty day, the soul-crushing feeling of defeat and the absolute elation of victory, but I can feel pride … in these young men and their work ethic.”
In addition to their world series victory, White mentioned Nate Rose, a Bandits team member, was selected as the American Legion player of the year.
Though he’s grateful for the honor, the 18-year-old shortstop tells EastIdahoNews.com the award took him completely by surprise.
“I didn’t even know we’d make it to the world series halfway through the year, so to be named player of the year is a pretty great thing,” Rose says.
Head Coach Ryan Alexander got teary-eyed as he expressed his appreciation for “the fantastic young men” on the team and his gratitude for the sponsorship of the American Legion Post 56.
The team presented a regional championship trophy to Bob Skinner, the American Legion Post 56 Commander.
After Skinner’s remarks, Amy Taylor, a representative for U.S. Senator Jim Risch, read a statement from him congratulating the Bandits.
Casper and Ammon Mayor Sean Coletti then read a proclamation declaring Aug. 24, 2021 Idaho Falls Bandits Day.
“You are well on your way to having a great life because you’ve learned some things,” Casper told the team at the conclusion of the event. “You carry yourself like a winner on and off the field. Thank you so much.”
This is the team’s second victory in two years. The Bandits won the American Legion World Series with a 5-3 victory over Fargo, North Dakota in 2019. Last year’s tournament was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
During the rally, Mayor Casper pointed out the Bandits back-to-back victory is the sixth time it’s happened in the league’s history, the latest of which occurred in 2013 and 2014. She also mentioned the Pocatello team participated in the American Legion’s first world series in 1926.
The American Legion is the nation’s largest wartime veterans service organization aimed at advocating patriotism across the U.S. According to its website, the nonprofit was chartered by Congress in 1919 as a patriotic veterans organization and has since grown to include nearly 2 million members and 13,000 posts worldwide.
The baseball program is one of the nonprofit’s various activities available to youth. Bandits Head Coach Ryan Alexander says there are between 3,400 and 3,800 teams nationwide.
Each of the Bandit’s players are selected from legion teams at each of the five high schools in Idaho Falls.