Notebook / Mitch Polin : Legion Coach Finds Happiness in Connie Mack League

After coaching West Covina to third place in the American Legion World Series last year, Bill Viverto figured it was time for a change.

So Viverto, who coached American Legion baseball for seven years, decided to become coach of West Covina’s Connie Mack League team for young people 16 to 18 years old this season and is happy about the move.

With several players who starred for his American Legion team last year, Viverto’s Connie Mack team has a 27-7 record and will compete in the state playoffs July 24 at Blair Field in Long Beach.

“I’m glad I made the move,” Viverto said. “It’s nice to see how other leagues and teams operate. There is life after American Legion.”


West Covina is led by shortstop and pitcher Mike Misuraca, a standout at Glendora High last season who is batting .414, and third baseman Jose Millares, a San Gabriel High player who is batting .360.

The team also features first baseman and pitcher Vince Aguilar (.342), outfielder Eric Schumaker (.330) and shortstop Albert Salgado (.313)--all of whom played for the American Legion World Series team a year ago. Aguilar, a prep standout at West Covina High, has a 7-1 pitching record and has picked off 20 runners.

Viverto says the caliber of play is about the same as American Legion baseball. “It’s every bit as good as American Legion. It’s been very competitive.”

Perhaps a little too competitive at first. After struggling early in the season, West Covina has been strong since playing in the Connie Mack National Invitational Tournament in Columbus, Ohio, this month.


Facing many of the top teams in the nation, West Covina finished second at 7-2. West Covina lost to New York, 3-2, in the title game July 4.

“I think the trip to Ohio did wonders for us,” Viverto said. “We got to know each other and it brought us together. I think we’re ready for the playoffs now.”

The start of the prep football season is about two months away but several of the top title contenders in the San Gabriel Valley have emerged.

Heading the list could be Bishop Amat, which won the powerful Angelus League last year and has standout running back Eric Bieniemy returning. Other top teams should be Pasadena, Muir, Damien, Los Altos and Ganesha--schools with histories of success.

Muir, Damien, Ganesha and Pasadena have outstanding break-away running backs: Ricky Ervins of Muir, Eric Henley of Damien, Terrell Thompson of Ganesha and W. C. Morrison of Pasadena. Los Altos is led by linebacker Ken Lopez.

Former Kansas City Chiefs and USC running back Mike Garrett has been named honorary chairman of the seventh National Football Foundation Hall of Fame All-Star Football Game on Aug. 8 at Arroyo High School in El Monte.

Garrett, a Pasadena resident, will toss the coin before the East-West game, which will match 88 of the top graduating high school seniors in the San Gabriel Valley.

Game director Jim Brownfield, football coach at Muir High, said about 5,000 fans are expected at the game, which will benefit the National Football Foundation San Gabriel Valley Chapter’s scholar-athlete fund.