The Kennedy Park Little League (KP) announced on its Facebook page on June 2 that it was canceling its house league season.
The decision was the result of a long list of reasons and many tense conversations, according to Kennedy Park Little League President Matt Winkler.
“We saw Merrionette Park announce they were cancelling and then Ridge-Beverly canceled, too. As a league, we might not even be able to play in June anyway with the condition of the fields,” Winkler said. “The fields were too rough. With the other leagues canceling, we would have had a lack of opponents.”
While the house leagues have been canceled, Winkler said KP still intends to offer a baseball outlet for families who are interested.
KP will host a “T-Shirt League” that will run for five weeks between July 6 through August 7.
Players from T-ball, instructional, minors and majors leagues are all eligible for the shortened league.
The teams and coaches that had already been drafted this spring will remain the same. Games would be played only Monday and Friday at Kennedy Park.
The league will not provide uniforms, instead assigning colors to each team so players can wear that specific color.
Players will be responsible for their own glove, helmet and bat, but the league will provide catcher’s gear. Umpires will either be coaches or older players from KP.
The home plate umpire will stand behind the pitcher’s mound.
Score will be kept for the games but no standings will be compiled. There will not be practices, awards or playoffs.
For Winkler and the league’s seven-person board, the goal was to provide a safe, fun outlet for families who otherwise would have lost the summer season.
“We’re doing it for the right reasons. It would have been devastating to not have baseball this summer for the kids as an outlet,” Winkler said. “I feel terrible for the kids. This is simply a way for the kids to play some games and have fun at the park.”
Families who had already signed up for the summer season can make the final decision if they wanted to play in the T-shirt league.
Winkler said the offer to play is not exclusive to KP players either, inviting young baseball and softball players from both Merrionette Park (MP) and Ridge Beverly (RB) to join the league as well.
The fee for joining the league from either MP and RB is $20 a player. The fee will help cover some field maintenance and supplies, including chalk, baseballs and softballs.
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“We are taking all the necessary precautions. We’re looking at other leagues and seeing what they’re doing,” Winkler said. “The first and foremost priority is doing this safely and keeping everyone healthy. Baseball is the perfect sport for social distancing, but kids will be responsible for their own helmets, bats and gloves. There is no sharing equipment.”
The start of the league season was originally pushed from May to June 1 due to statewide health restrictions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent quarantine.
The league start date was then pushed back to June 15 before the most recent news of the league house season being canceled.
The Merrionette Park Baseball and Softball League announced on its Facebook page on May 29 that its schedule had been canceled for the 2020 season.
Ridge Beverly made its cancellation announcement on June 2.