Local league officials expect to follow suit with the MSHSL and the MBA along with the Minnesota Legion Board in terms of summer baseball.
Normally, Mother’s Day Sunday would end with our youth baseball season getting underway. Due to COVID-19 and Governor Walz’s shutdown policy, the season is on hold.
The Minnesota Baseball Association said Saturday that the Amateur baseball teams will not play until the Governor gives the okay. Assuming youth baseball follows suit, this will also be the case for the youngsters.
Last speaking with league directors over three weeks ago, a lot of new data and information has come out regarding COVID-19. Although uncertainty looms over us all, there can be optimistic hope that there will be summer baseball this season. How it will look, nobody really knows. League officials said in an e-mail on Monday, May 4 that associations will have to check base on preferences for families. Examples being, if the league starts in July, are they okay with playing into August? Tournaments may also be out of the picture, would just playing games and having practices be okay? Another question to be considered would be liability and health concerns among families? The league also wants to make sure there aren't any restrictions strong enough to make for an awkward experience.
Gopher State Baseball, Metro Baseball League, and Minnesota Softball have created specific guidelines for the more than 40,000 Minnesota kids that play summer baseball and softball. Although these leagues and/or committees are different than our local leagues, we may be able to share ideas and/or follow the same criteria these leagues presented to the Governor.
Among things discussed are social distancing in the dugout and entering or exiting ballparks. Executive Director of Minnesota Youth Athletic Services Dawson Blanck says that, “each team would be responsible for their own baseball or softball in the field and would be responsible for disinfecting that throughout the innings.”
Other guidelines included three to five players in the dugout at one time. Entry into ballparks would include one gate for entry, another for exiting. Similar to what we see at big box stores like Wal-Mart. Although some of the guidelines seem silly and bring concern about realism, there can be optimism provided for summer baseball. With baseball and softball being played outdoors, optimism arises.
In addition, some decisions may not be able to be made by the leagues. Public schools, parks, and baseball fields across the country are currently shut down indefinitely. Like Major League Baseball, youth baseball is trying to salvage a semblance of a season.
Little League President and CEO Steve Keener said, “Our highest priority is really trying to salvage some semblance of a season for the millions of kids who are home right now and very disappinted that they’re not playing baseball and softball.”
Brandon Raymo of Minnesota Legion baseball said, “we have been closely monitoring what other states have done in terms of returning to play. We obviously need to adhere to the Governor and CDC orders, so we will wait and see what types of restrictions remain in place after the stay at home order.” Raymo also said that they are working with the University of Minnesota to create a phase-in plan of their own that meets social distancing criteria. Raymo lastly stated in an e-mail that “I can assure you that the Legion Baseball board is pretty committed to trying to have some type of season, whatever it may look like.”
Our local youth baseball leagues will likely follow suit with what the MBA does with Amateur baseball as well as Legion baseball. The Legion board meets again on Saturday, May 9.