Jasper Youth Baseball to commence in June

Herald archives
Members of the Huntingburg Little League’s Red Sox strained toward assistant coach Bart Weyer for the next turn at batting practice on March 27, 1995. The 9- and 10-year-old minor league team members were preparing for their May 2 season opener. This year’s youth baseball landscape will look very different than it did 25 years ago, with social distancing mandated, restricted use of facilities and sanitation procedures occurring to a greater extent than in previous seasons to help stave off occurrences of COVID-19.

By COREY STOLZENBACH
sports@dcherald.com

Little League International has canceled the World Series for 2020 following the COVID-19 outbreak, but there is still baseball to be played, at least in Jasper there is.

Jasper Youth Baseball President Jason Stamm intends on having a limited season while still incorporating strict sanitary and social distancing guidelines in the process. Little League International and Indiana informed JYB that the local organization is not allowed to start its season until June 14. That is when teams will begin practicing until July 5, with games starting the next day.

“The board of directors for Jasper Youth Baseball got together and decided that we wanted to try it,” Stamm said. “That’s basically how we got to the point we did. Once we determined we were going to have a season, we basically just started thinking to come up with some guidelines that we’re going to have to follow to be able to have a season.”

Some of these guidelines include players having their temperatures checked by a coach before every practice or game. There won’t be huddles, handshaking, high-fiving and no conferences except for a coach consulting with a pitcher on the mound. Even then, the coach must wear a mask. The concession stand will be open with a limited menu, and people are asked to practice social distancing. Umpires will also wipe down baseballs after every half inning has been completed.

Stamm anticipates he will receive negative feedback over this decision, but his response is that nobody will be forced to play, and full refunds will be distributed if somebody forgoes the season.

JYB also has a waiver letter for adults to sign to protect the organization from liability. The teams do not guarantee no one won’t become infected with the virus, and participation could increase risk. Parents are asked to sign the agreement, assume responsibility and refrain from filing a lawsuit.

Stamm believes a season is needed for kids to look forward to something and have something to do.

“We wouldn’t do any of this if we felt it was unsafe,” he said. “Obviously, the safety of the kids and the parents and grandparents and all those that come to the games, that’s our No. 1 priority. But when [Gov. Eric Holcomb] released his road map to recovery, basically he gave some guidelines as to when things can start. That’s basically what we followed.”

He added that JYB likely wouldn’t have done anything had restrictions been kept in place rather than gradually eased. Stamm has talked to other communities that are doing the same, but he also knows of others who have canceled the season.

The Herald reported on Monday that the Dubois County Health Department announced the first death of a county resident from the virus. It reported confirmation of a second death the next day. The Herald reported Friday that there have been 77 cases within the county and 30 recoveries.

Stamm said reservations remain despite moving toward having a season.

“At any time, we can come out and say, ‘We’re done, we’re canceling it for the year, we’re not going to do it,” Stamm said. “If, obviously, things in Dubois County continue to get worse and get a lot worse and we have more deaths, if we have that type of thing, then yeah, the option is there to say, ‘No. We’re pulling the plug. We’re done for the year.’”

There won’t be All Stars, Regionals or a World Series, so Stamm wants to make sure the kids at JYB have fun while playing the game this summer. That, he said, is the top priority.

“Every year, we want them to have fun, but this year especially,” he said. “The coaches need to do that. They need to reiterate, ‘Hey, let’s have some fun. Mostly, let’s have some fun, and let’s learn a little bit about the game of baseball.’”

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GUIDELINES FOR 2020 SEASON

— Parents should take their child’s temperature before coming to the sports complex. If it is 99.9 or higher, PLEASE keep your child at home.

— Players’ temperatures will be checked by a coach before EVERY practice or game.

— EVERYONE should use social distancing while at the park.

— Parents will have to bring lawn chairs to sit in, as the bleachers will be closed to spectators.

— No players will be allowed in the dugouts at any time.

— Players must sit in the bleachers or may stand (6 feet apart) down the foul lines by the dugouts.

— More coaches are allowed per team to help maintain order with kids.

— All players’ equipment must be hung outside of the dugouts.

— Players will not be allowed to share equipment.

— No handshaking, high fiving, hugging, prayer lines, etc.

— No huddles allowed before games, between innings or after games.

— No gum or sunflower seeds along with anything else that can be transferred from the mouth while playing.

— All teams are asked to remove all equipment and place any trash in the proper containers after completion of games. 

— At the conclusion of a game, a coach should use the provided sanitizer solution and spray and wipe down the bleachers, dugout, catcher’s gear, helmets and anything that was touched frequently.

— Any PPE a player may want to wear is allowed (example: face mask).

— Players will be allowed to wear batting gloves in the field.

— ALL TEAMS WILL HAVE A COVID TASK COACH. This will be a parent (from that particular team) that will be in charge of taking temperatures before each practice or game, and will be in charge of wiping down items detailed in these guidelines. This can be a mom or dad. They will be supplied with the property PPE and equipment to perform this role.

— All players and fans must provide their own hand sanitizer.

— All players are to bring their own fluids to drink, which must be in a bottle with a cap — no sharing bottles. The water fountain in the dugouts will NOT be turned on.

— No conferences allowed except between the coach and pitcher, and coach must wear a mask while speaking with the pitcher.

— Catchers will be required to back away from the hitter to allow for social distancing.

— The umpire will be stationed behind the pitcher in a position to the side of the non-pitching arm of the pitcher. He will be off of the pitching mound. The umpire will be a coach from the team that is on defense.

— Umpires will wipe down the balls at the completion of each half inning.

— No pop-up tents will be allowed due to restricting others view of the game.

— Parents and fans will be required to sit beyond the outfield fence, and must bring their own chairs. This area extends from foul pole to foul pole.

— No socializing at anytime before or after games while inside the park.

— Concession stand will be open with a limited menu. Use social distancing while standing in line.

— Restrooms located between field 2 and 3 on the boys side will be open; restrooms at the concession stand will be CLOSED.

— Spray bottles with sanitizing spray in them will be provided to be used for the dugouts, restrooms, equipment and bleachers. These will all be cleaned between games.

— JYB will do whatever it can to maintain a safe environment for the boys to get to play baseball this summer. Also, keep in mind that things change almost daily, and adjustments will be made on the fly this season.

— Any questions, call Jason Stamm, president, Jasper Youth Baseball.




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