Baseball has bounced back to normal at Branson’s Ballparks of America.
Nearly normal, that is, given current Covid-19 pandemic precautions.
Every third row of bleachers and seats are cordoned off for social Distancing. Every foul ball has to be sanitized. Dugouts are carefully wiped down and sanitized between games. Screening centers greet visitors as they come into the campus to watch games at the various complex fields.
Other than that, it’s “Play ball!!” agreed players, coaches, proud parents and fans alike.
“We’re so excited to be playing and watching baseball outside again, said Kelly Phipps of Willard, Mo. “We arrived an hour early. Everybody did!”
The Phipps family came to watch son and centerfielder Jackson of the Willard Tigers face off against the Nixa Eagles in a practice game between thirteen-year-olds.
“We’ve all been dying to get out of house and have some fun,” Phipps said. “We don’t mind the rain. It’s just a light rain and we brought the umbrellas.”
Last week, 26 teams played the first tournament of the season at Ballparks of America. They traveled from all across Missouri, Illinois, Kansas and Arkansas over the Memorial Day weekend holiday.
“It was a win for everybody,” said Scott Bailes, new General Manager of Ballparks of America. “Everyone followed the health and safety conditions and precautions and were happy to do it. We’re playing baseball again.”
Bailes started his position as GM two weeks ago.
“Ballparks of America is the premier baseball facility for players between ten to fourteen years of age, Bailes said. “What an honor to be part of this legacy. I’m very glad to be here.”
Not all baseball enthusiasts are as fortunate as those in Branson. On both coasts, baseball has been put on hold as different states slowly re-open. The international ban on travel has also affected baseball for young players.
Due to the ongoing impact of COVID-19, the Board of Directors of Babe Ruth League, Inc. has decided forgo the traditional Regional and World Series formats for 2020.
“These are unprecedented times,” said Steven Tellefsen, President/CEO for Babe Ruth League, Inc. “And while it is upsetting to think of all our participants who will be disappointed by this announcement, Babe Ruth League’s highest priority remains the health, well-being and safety of our participants, families, volunteers, and fans. It is our hope that our players will be allowed to return to their community playing fields and play as much baseball and softball as they can for the remainder of the 2020 year”
The Cal Ripken Major/70 World Series that was to be played in Branson, Missouri, this summer will now take place in August of 2021.
“Branson has been a quality host community for the Cal Ripken Major/70 Series since 2017,” said Robert Faherty, Vice President for BRL. “I am continually amazed at the support, excitement and professionalism the entire community shows. The City of Branson, the Branson Convention & Visitors Bureau, Ballparks of America, and Babe Ruth League, Inc. have worked together to form a wonderful team and the perfect home for the Cal Ripken Major/70 Series. We look forward to providing the perfect setting for our managers, coaches, players, as well as their families and fans, to enjoy another big-league experience in Branson in 2021.”