To this point in the year, the COVID-19 pandemic has led to the cancellation of 2020 seasons for several sports, including high school and collegiate sports campaigns, and the summer seasons of the Donegal Rheems Softball League, Lancaster County Summer Swim League and the Lancaster County Midget Baseball League, among many others.
But one local sports organization is going ahead with a summer season..
The Lancaster County Youth Baseball League will see first pitches thrown Monday.
“We’re really happy the boys are going to be out there playing baseball. All of our members were just great dealing with all of this,” Lancaster County Youth Baseball League president Brett Jackson said by phone Tuesday night. “I’m glad we didn’t cancel earlier in the year and remained patient in waiting this out.”
It’s worth noting here the Lancaster County Midget Baseball League last weekend voted to cancel its 2020 season, largely because the bulk of its teams play on fields owned by school districts, many of which haven’t yet given the green light to have access to those fields.
Meanwhile, the majority of the Lancaster County Youth Baseball League’s teams play on municipally- or privately-owned fields. Tie that into Lancaster County this Friday moving into the green phase of Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf’s reopening phase, and it made things feasible for the Lancaster County Youth Baseball League to have a season, albeit a truncated one.
While more than 20 clubs had to cancel on a 2020 season for various reasons, the league will still have approximately 95 teams playing across three age levels. Those teams at the 14-and-under and 12-and-under levels will play a 12-game regular season, while the remaining teams in the 10-and-under level will play a 10-game regular season.
Jackson said the league is making an exception to allow a team from Lebanon County to participate in its summer season. Government leaders in Lebanon reopened early in defiance of Wolf and virus cases have been rising there since late May, likely resulting in it being the lone remaining county in the state still under tight pandemic restrictions.
Anyways, each player is required to sign a COVID-19 waiver release form, which protects the league and its teams from any liability should a player contract the coronavirus.
Still, several safety precautions are being taken. Only coaches and the home plate umpire will conduct the pre-game meeting at home plate, standing at a distance of six feet apart. The home plate umpire will instead be standing behind the pitcher’s mound. And in place of a postgame handshake of players, teams will instead line up on either foul-line and tip their caps.
“Umpires also will not be holding the baseballs this year,” Jackson said. “Instead, each team will bring their own baseball out on the field with them and take it off with them.”
As a result, the popular practice of tossing the ball around the infield after recording an out will still be allowed.
As far as the wearing of a face mask, Jackson said the league is not requiring them, but anyone who wants to wear one is permitted to do so.
While the league is still finalizing schedules over the coming days, it’s aiming for a five-week regular season, followed by the 75th annual LNP Tournament at Kunkle Field in Mount Joy, with the 14 and under games set for Aug. 10-14, and the 12 and under games scheduled for Aug. 17-21.