BOISE, Idaho — The Idaho Falls Bandits won the American Legion baseball World Series in August in Shelby, North Carolina.
This marked the second straight World Series championship for Idaho Falls Post 56 that draws from five different high schools, they also won the World Series in 2019.
After winning it all this year, the American Legion paid for the team to travel to Atlanta for game four of the MLB World Series.
The Braves would go on to win the World Series over the Houston Astros four games to two, the kids from Idaho Falls got to see the Braves come from behind as Dansby Swanson and Jorge Soler hit back to back homers to give Atlanta the lead, Soler would eventually earn MVP of the series.
We caught up with the boys from Idaho Falls Post 56 when they were on their way to the game and after the team ran into hall of fame pitcher Pedro Martinez at the hotel.
"That was awesome, it was crazy we were just kind of walking down the lobby and he walks up to us and says go Bandits," said Kai Howell. "We were like who is that, and it was Pedro Martinez, we were following along and he was getting in his car and he looks at us and was like yo let’s get a picture."
The American Legion is a veterans organization that is responsible for creating the GI Bill, but this organization has several pillars and baseball falls under Americanism and children and youth.
However, in 2020 the legion had to cancel its season because of the pandemic while the Idaho Falls Bandits weren't able to defend their crown that year something different happened in Ada County as teams decided to go in a different direction.
"Boise has kind of withdrawn from American Legion Baseball and headed more to the club ball or as some people call it the play ball because you pay to play," said Abe Abrahamson of the American Legion here in Boise. "I think it had a lot to do with coaches trying to build their high school program."
This spring Timberline defeated Eagle for the 5A Idaho state championship and Bishop Kelly won the 4A so clearly Boise, Eagle and Meridian have talent when it comes to baseball.
Legion baseball is more of a continuation of the high school season allowing seniors and college freshmen if they fall under the age limit to play during the summer.
The Idaho Falls Bandits create basically an all-star team with several college freshmen and they have players from all five high schools in southeastern Idaho.
"What an amazing group of guys and the coaches are just amazing," said Abrahamson. "Those boys play with heart and they just come to play ball and that’s what they do."
The effects of the Boise area not playing legion baseball needs to be investigated to find out how this affects kids either good or bad, how it affects the surrounding teams in Canyon County and the Treasure Valley and the cost associated with some of these club teams and whether or not that discourages families from having their kids play baseball.
But we did learn that the 2019 World Series team had 14 of their 17 players go on to play college baseball, according to Bandits coach Ryan Alexander.
The Idaho Falls Bandits also got the opportunity of a lifetime as their success earned them an all-expense trip to the MLB World Series that they got to enjoy together as a team.
"It's crazy that we are actually here and this is actually happening, it’s a dream come true for sure," said Howell.
Nate Rose earned American Legion player of the year and he will get another trip as the Legion will pay for him to go to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown during Memorial Day Weekend in 2022.