The moment Eden Prairie, Minn., won the 2011 American Legion Baseball World Series in Shelby, N.C., Blake Schmit walked off the field with a championship title and a new status — the first player in Legion history to have earned two major Legion Baseball awards. Schmit, who played shortstop for Eden Prairie, was awarded the James F. Daniel Jr. Memorial Sportsmanship award in 2010, and the George W. Rulon American Legion Player of the Year last fall after his team’s 13-inning win against Tupelo, Miss.
Schmit received his Player of the Year award on June 16 during the Hall of Fame Classic game at Doubleday Field in Cooperstown, N.Y. The annual event is hosted by the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.
The award was presented by Hall of Fame Senior Vice President Bill Haase and the Department of Missouri National Vice Commander Dave Voyles. As a recipient of the distinguished award, Schmit received a $3,500 scholarship from the Legion, a keepsake Hall of Fame bat with his name and award title engraved on it, and a signed baseball from 1997 Hall of Famer Phil Niekro. Niekro, a five-time Rawlings Gold Glove recipient, pitched for many elite Major League Baseball teams such as the New York Yankees, Cleveland Indians and Toronto Blue Jays. But his baseball career was primarily with the Atlanta Braves.
Besides his two Legion scholarship earnings, in 2010 and 2011 Schmit helped lead Eden Prairie to the Legion World Series and earned a spot on The American Legion Baseball All-Academic Team. Schmit will play collegiately for the University of Maryland this fall.The George W. Rulon Player of the Year is presented annually to eligible Legion baseball players. It pays tribute to George W. Rulon, the national staff coordinator who operated American Legion Baseball for 25 years. Legion team managers or coaches can recognize a player by filling out an application and submitting it to their department (state) baseball headquarters, which reviews all nominees and identifies a top candidate. During the Legion Baseball World Series, a committee reviews each state’s top candidate for award consideration.