Honorable Governor Walz,
We have written you two letters and to this date have yet to receive a response. (The two letters are attached) This is disappointing to us, as we were hoping that amateur baseball would have been given the go ahead to start playing by now.
The sports commission has asked us to point out the differences between us and youth baseball. Gary Schleper is one of the board members who govern amateur baseball, he is from Shakopee and coaches a youth 14-and-under team and an amateur team. The following are differences that differentiate the two entities.
1.) Dugouts – Youth baseball has a narrow bench outside the field of play behind a fence. Benches in Shakopee are 16 ft. in length. Adult dugouts are a covered structure on the field of play, in Shakopee they are 43 ft. in length and 11 ft. in depth, over 2 ½ times longer and much deeper, with similar numbers of players in both groups. Many adult dugouts have two rows of seating and stools in the front allowing ample space for social distancing. Most teams have about 15 players and one coach at a typical game instead of 12 players and a 3-4 man coaching staff like youth teams have.
2.) Parks – Youth baseball may have a small bleacher that holds 20-30 people. Many fans bring their own chairs. Amateur parks have a large grandstand that seats 100-500 people, and the parks can easily hold a total of 250-1,000 fans, with additional seating or standing areas down the first and third base line. Many parks have other options such as decks and elevated bleachers. Shakopee’s park holds 1,000 people. While a majority of amateur games draw between 50-100 fans. This allows for proper social distancing outlined in your directive.
Proposed guidelines recommended by the MBA to return to baseball
1.) Encourage social distancing by spectators inside the park. The size of our stadiums makes this easy to accomplish
2.) Social distancing of players in dugouts , bullpens and outside the dugout to the outfield side if needed.
3.) Hand sanitizer available in both dugouts and at concession stand.
4.) No handshakes, high fives or unneeded contact of any kind.
5.) Players should avoid sharing gear.
6.) Players will label and bring their own water or sports drink no water fountains may be used under any circumstance.
7.) No spitting of any kind this includes sunflower seeds, chewing tobacco, etc.
8.) Facemasks and gloves may be worn by players, fans and umpires.
9.) Facemasks and gloves must be worn by all concession workers.
10.) Umpires can choose to stand behind the catcher or pitcher.
These guidelines will be posted in dugouts and read by the PA announcer before every game.
Governor, we are a very organized group and our teams have respected your directives. All neighboring states have approved the opening of baseball.
The announcement that churches can resume activities at 25 percent capacity is great news for amateur baseball. Our parks can easily handle all our fans and stay well below the 25 percent threshold. We request that you open amateur baseball on the same date as churches open.
WE CAN AND WILL FOLLOW THESE GUIDELINES AS WELL AS ANY OTHER ENTITY. WE ARE OUTSIDE, HAVE VERY FEW PEOPLE GATHERING IN A VERY LARGE SPACE AND ARE A REASONABLE AND LOGICAL BUSINESS TO OPEN IMMEDIATELY. OUR 275 TEAMS ACROSS THE GREAT STATE OF MINESOTA IMPLORE YOU. LET US PLAY OUR NATION’S PASTIME!
Mike Nagel Secretary/Treasurer
Minnesota Baseball Association