By Michael Davison

Globe Sports Writer

Before Joplin High School's baseball team turned in its uniforms, coach Kirk Harryman talked about the summer season.

He stopped each time, careful to say summer baseball season. That's because this year Joplin won't take part in the American Legion season, instead opting for an independent schedule.

The reason for Joplin's defection: Harryman and Tucker Hagedorn were suspended. They were forbidden from having contact with players during the Legion district tournament for two years.

"Some circumstances with the state board came up," Harryman said. "We decided this would be a good transition from one organization to another. We appreciate our time in the Legion, but we've been thinking about this the past four years.

"Tucker and I were unable to be at a meeting in March because we were at a tournament in Broken Arrow (Okla.)," Harryman added. "We weren't able to answer questions about a dual roster player.

"We had a high school baseball game. I'm disappointed we couldn't handle this over the phone. But I have no ill will toward the Legion board."

The Legion sent a letter to meet with Harryman in September, but it arrived two days before the meeting, too late to make proper arrangements.

Although Joplin isn't in the Legion district tournament, it will play three of those teams, Webb City, Carthage and McDonald County, which will play host to Joplin on Monday to open the season.

"This isn't going to change what we do in the summer," Harryman said. "We're going to do what's best for our kids and make them better players.

"We'll still be the Joplin Miners and play 40-plus games plus 42 15- and 16-year-old games. We'll still have a quality summer tournament."

That tournament - the Roper Classic - will be June 15-18 and has 14 teams, including some new ones like Baxter Springs, Kan., Napolean, Ohio, and Locust Grove, Okla.

As far as a postseason tournament, Harryman said he's looking at the Dizzy Dean World Series, which will be held in the Memphis, Tenn., area the second week of July, around the time of the Legion district.

"We're also looking at some of our options in the future," Harryman said.

"We're looking at a Tulsa high school summer league, if they offer something close to our size."

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