Minor baseball won’t strike out during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Nanaimo Minor Baseball Association announced this week that it’s planning for its season to start up on June 22.
Mike Holyk, president of the NMBA, told the News Bulletin last month during the planning stages that the association’s board has been keen to try to ensure some kind of baseball season.
“The kids have missed out on a whole bunch, whether it’s being at school, being around their friends, other sports,” he said. “Rather than taking the easy route out, which is cancelling the season, [we were] waiting to see how this whole thing played out.”
He said NMBA was actively in touch with B.C. Minor Baseball and the City of Nanaimo during the planning stages. This week the association released to parents its return-to-play plan demonstrating how it intends to follow health and safety guidelines.
The season will start out as a “camp/clinic format” with players participating in drills and skill development, baseball-related games, individual and team skills competitions, and controlled scrimmages with modified rules.
Games, if and when allowed, will see some rule changes. The umpire will call balls and strikes from a position behind the pitcher and there will be rule changes regarding baserunning to limit contact between players. There will be no mound visits or post-game handshakes. Physical distancing will be observed, including in the dugouts, and baseballs will be sanitized after every two innings.
The season will run until July 30 for U6 T-ball, until Aug. 6 for U7 rookie ball and until Aug. 15 for all other divisions.
Holyk said for a lot of players, coaches and families, baseball represents a big part of the summer and said baseball season can be a positive in a challenging time.
“I think the activity and the distraction for a lot of people will be important,” he said.