Developments to the “Safe Play: Back to the Diamond” plan originally introduced by the Gopher State Baseball League, the Metro Baseball League and Minnesota Softball mean the return of youth sports may be rounding third base.
This time, that plan includes additional youth sports organizations.
After initial letters sent to Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz detailing a plan to salvage summer seasons for youth sports leagues, the state created a task force led by the Minnesota Amateur Sports Commission built on ensuring a safe return to the field is possible.
This also meant that instead of multiple organizations sending differing proposals, a unified message and return path was charted.
After meetings last week, a new timeline for youth baseball and softball seasons has been released after proposals were reviewed and approved by the Governor’s office.
On May 26, tryouts for youth baseball and softball teams will be permitted to begin, although that date can be pushed back to June 1 by the State of Minnesota. That will then lead to the start of the season June 15, with the number of spectators limited and distancing guidelines and safety measures in place.
In the initial letters submitted to Walz earlier this month, the start of competitive baseball and softball games were proposed to look like this:
- When games would take place, all players, coaches and umpires would enter through one entrance and exit through another, observing social distancing guidelines throughout. Parents and spectators would have separate seating away from the backstop and dugouts. Only players, up to three coaches and umpires would be allowed on the field. Spectators can only view the game from the outfield past first and third base along the foul lines.
- Dugouts would be extended to behind the dugout to the backstop for both teams to practice proper social distancing. Hand and equipment sanitizing would take place between innings. No more than three to five individuals could be in the dugout at any given time and would have to maintain proper social distancing.
- Coaches and umpires will not be able to shake hands or have any physical contact with each other while maintaining proper social distancing. Players and coaches will have to refrain from high five or other physical gestures of celebration.
- Teams would no longer shake hands at the end of the game and instead would tip their caps to the opponent following the game.
- Hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes would be used during and after the game should someone come into contact with shared equipment like bases. Players would wear batting gloves as much as possible and would refrain from sharing equipment.
- Each team would need to provide its own balls, which would be switched out or sanitized each inning.
- Players, spectators, umpires and coaches would be recommended to wear CDC-approved face masks.
- Umpires would call the game from behind the pitcher’s mound and maintain proper social distancing between all fielders. Umpires should also wear gloves if they intend to handle balls and change gloves after each use following touching a ball.