The game may look a little different, but area youth baseball and softball leagues plan to play ball this summer.

The game may look a little different, but area youth baseball and softball leagues plan to play ball this summer. 

Practices began this week and the first games are scheduled for June 8 with the season running through July 30. In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic that has shut schools and businesses down and created a new world of social distancing, a return to an American pastime with a few alterations may be a welcome sign of some kind of return to normalcy.

“We knew things were going to open up in May and wanted to give kids a chance to play, even though it looks different,” said Camdenton City Administrator Jeff Hooker, one administrator who spoke on the situation that involved coordinating with the local health department and having a few conversations about finding a way to make it work. 

“We have been low on (COVID-19) cases in the past 18 to 19 days and if something happens we will rethink safety and can shut it down just as easy as we did in March and April. It’s good to get the kids out there, playing together in the fresh air and exercising.”

In the interest of public safety, there will be a few new rules in place and that includes the rules of baseball and softball, too. 

As for the game itself, every player has to have their own helmet and glove and only two or three kids can be in the dugout when a team comes in to bat with the rest of the team staying six feet apart along the fences. The umpire will stand behind the pitcher as opposed to being behind the catcher and the catcher will be moving back from the normal spot. Baserunners will be allowed to steal, but there will be no leading off and no first baseman to hold the runner on, so the baserunner must start the steal attempt from the base. There will be no high-fives or handshakes and everyone must spread out for any postgame speeches.

As for the rules off the diamond, there will be signs posted to remind everyone of social distancing and patrons will have the opportunity to wash their hands and sanitize. Fans are encouraged to bring chairs and practice social distancing, avoiding the use of bleachers. The concession stand will consist of prepackaged items to start and employees will have the option of wearing a mask. The dugouts will also be disinfected before each game. 

Overall, Hooker said there have been positive remarks on making this an opportunity for area youth.  

“The kids miss each other, too, because school has been out. Being able to see friends again, it is different, but it is still exercise, it is competitive and a learning experience for the kids,” the city administrator noted. 

For any questions about youth leagues in your area, here are the numbers you can call: 

-Eldon: (573) 392-2156 or (573) 392-2291

-Osage Beach: 573-302-7460

-Camdenton: (573) 346-8402

-Versailles: 573-378-4634

-Laurie: (573) 374-8776

People can also call their local parks and recreation department or reach out to their city hall as well.