MINNEAPOLIS – Minnesota youth sports leaders are working with state leaders in crafting the “Safe Play Plan” with hopes that games can start soon with safety in mind.
Minnesota Youth Athletic Services executive director Dawson Blanck said they’ve been given the go-ahead to begin youth baseball and softball practices on June 1st, and the hope is that games can start June 15th, but safety protocols need to be finalized first.
Metro Baseball League administrator Kim Eul says they plan to put safety protocols in place which will limit how many people can be in the dugouts, while also utilizing space behind the backstop for players, move fans to the outfield fences with proper distancing, and have one-person umpiring crew standing behind the pitcher.
Players will be advised to wear a mask while playing, but that will not be a requirement. There would be no postgame game handshake between the teams, instead players would tip their caps to each other from the baselines.
Both national and state organizations are working together to get a full plan put together to begin the season as safely as possible.
The Minnesota Baseball Association continues to wait for the go-ahead from Gov. Walz to get the Town Ball season started.
MBA board members continue to send letters to governor Walz and state regulators with recommendations on how they could safely operate, while seeking clarification on when a season could start.
As of Sunday the MBA is allowing teams to play games in neighboring states as long as rosters stay intact and teams provide the MBA with necessary info before games are played.
A major part of the association’s pitch is the size of most stadiums that teams play in relative to crowds for a given regular season game. According to the MBA, crowds average from 25-100 fans in facilities that can hold 600-1,000 people. Numbers that the association says will allow ample space for people to social distance while attending town ball games.
As for players on the field, association board members are confident that social distancing can be maintained.
For guidance of how to operate, the MBA doesn’t have to look far. South Dakota will begin amateur baseball play on May 31.
Under current Minnesota orders, teams can practice in groups of up to 10 people while social distancing on the diamond. For now, 277 amateur teams across the state are in limbo but hopeful that a season can be played out.