Only three years ago, the Butler County American Legion Baseball League was down to seven teams.
Now it’s up to 12 — and looking for more.
The 10 teams in the circuit last year — Meridian, Center Township, Butler City, East Butler, Cranberry, Saxonburg, Valley, Freeport, West Sunbury and Slippery Rock — have been joined by Seneca Valley North and Grove City.
“There’s a chance we’re going to get a few more,” BCAL president Jerry Piroch said. “If it happens, this league will be bigger in size than it’s ever been.”
The league could grow to as many as 17 teams this season as three more teams from the Alle-Kiski area have expressed interest in joining and Mars and Karns City have plenty of players.
Hampton has expressed interest in joining the BCAL as well.
Piroch said there’s “about a 25 percent chance” of the 2014 season beginning with 17 teams.
“If we were to even go to 14 teams, we would likely form a North and South Division and play more regionally to cut down on travel,” said Center Township manager Doug Culbertson, the league’s vice president.
Anybody interested in entering a team in the league from those aforementioned areas would need to contact Piroch at 724-996-3911, Culbertson at 724-290-1013 or Meridian manager Butch Master, the league’s secretary-treasurer, at 724-355-9246 by Feb. 10. That’s the BCAL’s next meeting date.
The league schedule will be put together in March with the season beginning in May.
“Karns City has won the county’s Colt League title each of the past four years,” Piroch said. “Right now, those kids have nowhere to play baseball after that age and that’s a shame.
“Mars is one of the top baseball areas in the county. Their high school team is always good. What those areas need is leadership to put together a Legion team.”
Entering his 10th season as Butler City manager, Piroch is the current dean of BCAL skippers.
“When I first joined this league, Terry Stiehler at Karns City and Bob Steiner at Mars ran top-notch programs,” Piroch said. “Those were the programs you wanted to pattern your’s after.”
Culbertson admitted the BCAL would be better off having Karns City and Mars fielding teams in the league.
“I can’t help but wonder what we are missing out on by not having them in the league with us,” Culbertson said. “What kind of talent do they have in those areas? You see it in the paper all the time, how good their high school teams are.”
The BCAL will continue with its scholarship program this season, awarding three $1,000 scholarships to final-year players.