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Little League baseball returns in Ohio; many leagues not taking part

(WSAZ)
Published: May. 26, 2020 at 9:38 PM EDT
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Kids hit the baseball diamond for the first time this year with the knowledge that their upcoming season will look and feel considerably different.

Tuesday was the first day non-contact sports were allowed to resume in Ohio.

In Ohio's District 11, which covers much of our area, only six out of 19 leagues are playing their season, meaning teams that haven't cancelled will be playing against each other more frequently.

Coal Grove has one of the few leagues that is pressing on, and Tuesday evening they held their first practice since the season was postponed two months ago.

"These boys have been inside for two months," parent Allie Schug said. "They didn't know if they were going to have a baseball team. Being able to get out here today and let them enjoy themselves is amazing. We're grateful they're able to do it."

Social distancing measures are in place, including limiting the number of kids who can practice at a given time, no sitting in the dugouts, and no team coolers or sharing drinks.

"It's an awesome feeling having the kids having this opportunity to be out here and enjoy themselves and actually be kids," parent Sara Callahan said.

Parents have to sign a waiver saying if their child does catch COVID-19, the league can't be held responsible.

Down the road, 9-year-old Tanner Brown is limited to playing in his backyard in Proctorville with his dad. He's still waiting on word whether his league in Barboursville will have a season.

Brown is holding on to hope he'll be able to play.

"One, I'd miss most of my friends, and two, I just really love the sport," he said.

Donald Rawlins, the state director of Ohio Little League and District 11 administrator, says another thing they're doing differently in Ohio this year because of the unusual circumstances is allowing kids who live in areas with cancelled seasons to play for teams that have not cancelled.

The concession stand in Coal Grove will be noticeably different, as well. They'll only be serving pre-packaged food -- no pizza or hot dogs.

Rawlins says reasons so many leagues have cancelled include the late start, families have planned vacations, and there will be no all-star tournament or post-season play.