By Dewey Terrill
There will be baseball at Rathert Field in Junction City this summer. Practice was scheduled to begin Tuesday evening.
The Kansas American Legion Baseball Committee recommended the 2020 season be cancelled and cancelled their regular season, zone and state tournaments. They did not prohibit teams from playing independently, however.
The Baseball Chairman for the American Legion in Junction City, Brian Field said a mitigation plan has been developed by local baseball officials, and approved by the Health Department for a team of youth from the same age group to play this summer. "Without zone and state this year we are going to go ahead and play as the Junction City Blues. We will play other Legion teams. We are allowed to play independently, and that's what we are going to do. We will play teams of our own age group. So it will be the same group of boys, same coaches."
Junction City was scheduled to host an American Legion State Tournament this July, but that has been cancelled. Local baseball officials have been assured that Junction City will be allowed to host the State Tournament in late July of 2021.
A mitigation plan will include some adjustments ranging from extending the dugout to avoid having the entire team in there are one time, discouraging high fives by players and replacing those with air fives or head nodding. Family units will be able to sit together, but social distancing will need to be maintained. Early in the summer season Field noted it may be necessary to allow only parents to attend, but perhaps that could be expanded over time.
There will not be much shared equipment, and players will have to have their own helmets. If there is shared catcher's gear proper sanitation measures will have to be put in place. High contact areas during games will have to be monitored, such as door handles and railings.
"We're to a point where we've got to get these kids back to some of their activities for their mental state. We've seen some of the secondary things from COVID-19 that we've had to deal with. As this stretches out we see more collateral situations, damage, that we want to try and minimize and this is one of those things, is trying to get our kids back to an activity. We feel like baseball is important to be one of those."
The Blues have a roster of approximately 15 players. They plan to play between 20 and 30 games.
Field did also acknowledg that the situation is fluid, because if the COVID-19 situation should become worse they could have to scale back. Hopefully that will not be the case.