America’s Pastime is on hold or canceled at every level across the country amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Major League Baseball, set to open March 26, will begin at the earliest in mid-May following the most recent guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that prohibits gatherings of 50 persons or more.
The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) canceled all spring sports across the board, granting an extra spring season of playing eligibility to seniors in the process, all high school spring sports are postponed until further notice, and the Little League International Board of Directors and staff strongly advised programs to suspend/delay their seasons through no earlier than Monday, May 11.
Hewlett-Woodmere Little League Vice President Richard Kahn said everything was set to go for April 5. “Teams are set and the new equipment and uniforms are in,” he said. “We were planning to start the first Sunday of April, skip the Easter and Passover holidays and then pick it up again after the break.
“I definitely have my doubts about playing at all,” added Kahn, whose been involved with the league for 40 years.
Parent and coach Nicole Eliopoulos, who has two of her four kids signed up to play this spring, believes the season hangs on the decision of whether or not schools open.
Kahn said there are approximately 300 kids ready to take the field if/when the green light is given. Based on the age group, seasons range from 12 to 14 games, not including playoffs. The highlight is usually the All-Star game and Home Run Derby held on Memorial Day.
However, in addition to the coronavirus, another obstacle to clear is the availability of playing fields. Kahn said the league has permits for several different locations until the end of June — Grant Park, North Woodmere Park and Ogden Elementary School. “We just have to take things day by day,” he said.
Little League International, which operates more than 6,500 programs in 84 countries, posted the following message on its website (www.littleleague.org): “We recognize that this is the heart of the traditional Little League season, and we share in the great disappointment that many are feeling surrounding this additional pause in the 2020 season. However, it is our hope that by doing this, we will all play a small, but important part in flattening the curve in the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.
“We will continue to consult with appropriate medical advisors, government health officials and our volunteer leaders around the world, and we are committed to doing the best we can for the safety and well-being of our players, families, volunteers, and fans. It is our sincere hope that we can find ways to bring everyone back to the Little League fields this season, whether that’s later this spring or throughout the summer."