There’s one familiar phrase that won’t be lost to COVID-19 restrictions this summer, and that is “Play Ball!”
The Charlestown Little League announced a modified season will take place from July 6 to the end of August – a much more relaxed season that will be for AAA level and Majors level, but not Rookie ball or T-Ball. The spring portion of Little League, and the annual celebrated Opening Ceremonies in April, were postponed this year due to COVID-19, and the idea of a season was in real jeopardy until last week when Gov. Charlie Baker announced youth sports would open in Phase 3 of his plan.
That allowed the Board of the Little League to meet and approve a modified season with tons of safeguards and new procedures.
“We have missed seeing the kids on the fields this spring and are now planning for a summer Little League season,” they said in a statement. “This plan is contingent on the City of Boston permitting us to use the fields, which hopefully will occur when we enter Phase 3 of Reopening. Our summer season would hopefully begin the week of July 6 and run through the end of August, and it would be for the AAA and Majors levels only. We do not feel that it is possible to implement the necessary safety and social distancing measures for the Rookie ball and Tee ball levels. This makes us very sad, and we hope to see the younger kids again in 2021.”
The registration for the summer season opens this week on the League’s website. The summer season this year is meant to be more relaxed than the typical year of competition. There will be some organized games, some sandlot-type games, skills clinics, a Home Run Derby, and a Skills Competition. There will be two nights of play per week, Monday and Weds. for Majors and Tuesday and Thursday for AAA. There will be no concession stand available, parents will be seated in a special location in the outfield socially distanced from one another, and the bathrooms will only be able to be used one at a time.
There has also been a lot of thought and troubleshooting by the League beforehand to think of how to play the game, practice the game and gather for games without violating social distancing.
That will be tricky, but there are already a number of measures in place and coaches on the bench that will be in charge solely of making sure the rules are applied.
One rule on the books is for equipment. No players will share equipment and it will not be kept in the dugouts. Players with any symptoms or a fever will, obviously, not be allowed to play.
Some of the measures that will be implemented for the relaxed season include:
•Players must not participate if they have any symptoms of COVID-19 (temp 100.4 or greater, cough, respiratory symptoms) or have had known exposure to a person with COVID-19.
•Players must bring their own drinks/water. None will be provided. The concession stand will NOT be open.
•There will be no handshakes, spitting, gum, sunflower seeds, high fives.
•Players must use their own equipment (helmet, glove, bat) or sign out equipment from the clubhouse to be used exclusively for that player for the season and then returned to us.
•Players must keep their equipment bag with their family, not on the bench, and their equipment must be kept 6’ from their teammates’ equipment.
•Players will use the dugout bench as well as the bleachers on their side of the field so that they may practice social distancing when not on defense.
•Players will wear a cloth face mask when on the bench. It is optional for them to also wear one when on the field. Players will bring their own cloth mask.
•Players will use hand sanitizer prior to going on defense each inning. Hand sanitizer will be provided by Charlestown Little League.
•Each team will have at least one bench coach designated to enforcing these safety measures, in addition to the base coaches.
•Spectators will be seated in the outfield behind the painted lines and will practice social distancing as well as wear cloth masks if social distancing is not possible.
•Families should limit the number of spectators to immediate family.
•Game-use baseballs will be changed out every inning and sanitized.
•Foul balls will be retrieved by players on the bench and not by spectators to limit who is contacting the baseballs.
•Umpires will stand behind the pitcher’s mound, wear a face mask and gloves and practice social distancing from the players where possible.
•Bathrooms and high-touch areas (door knobs, fence gate handles, benches) will be sanitized before and after each game/practice.
•Bathrooms will be one in/one out with no congregating (unless parents need to assist their child).