It’s official: No youth baseball this summer

Josh Grossman rounds the bag after a base hit in a McNary Youth Baseball game last season (File).

They held out for as long as possible, but last week, both McNary Youth Baseball (MYB) and Keizer Little League (KLL) made the decision to cancel their respective programs for the summer due to COVID-19.

MYB officially made the decision to cancel on Wednesday, May 27, while KLL followed suit on Sunday, May 30.

The final decision from the MYB board of directors wasn’t unanimous according to MYB President Bo Lane. But in the end, the board ultimately concluded that the logistics of trying to run a baseball and softball season were too difficult to strategize.

“It was super tough to make the decision. But with all the restrictions and lack of field space, accompanied by the fact that tons of other programs were pulling out left and right, we felt like this was our best course of action,” Lane said. “Right now, kids can’t even share a baseball together. We felt like we couldn’t keep asking our families to wait.”

However, due to the unforeseen circumstances, MYB will be unable to offer full refunds to their families — in large part, due to their league change.

“Because we joined Clackamas County this year, our season would have started three weeks earlier than normal. We had already purchased jerseys, hats and insurance in preparation for the season well before things closed down. Families will be refunded as much as possible,” Lane said. 

Lane says that MYB still wants to put together some scrimmages and/or clinics if Gov. Kate Brown eases up on the restrictions in Marion County.

Even though they aren’t able to play games, MYB has organized a four-week batting practice at the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes hitting facility — which started on Tuesday, June 2.

MYB will be following rules and regulations of the Oregon School Activities Association’s (OSAA) phase one of reopening guidance for athletics.

All players will be required to wear a mask at all times, and all equipment sharing and personal gestures (high-fives, handshakes, etc.) are prohibited. Personal water bottles are the only acceptable beverage.

Only 12 players will be allowed in the facility for each hour-long session, along with three to four coaches.

“It at least gives kids the opportunity to swing the bat again,” Lane said.

According to Lane, all 96 available slots were filled in less than 15 hours.  

Moving forward, MYB is hoping to organize and run their fall season on weekends from the end of August until the end of October if they are able.

While MYB had people on their board that still wanted to attempt to facilitate an abbreviated season, the decision to cancel was unanimous on the KLL board.

“We still didn’t know when we would be able to play a game and what would be considered safe. Yes, we could do some adjusted practices, but we didn’t want to charge families for practice,” KLL President Ryan Siegel said. “I think everyone knew going in that the season wasn’t going to happen.”

While they don’t have any practices or clinics scheduled, KLL is hoping to have their plan for fall baseball in place by early August. They are also giving families the opportunity to either receive a full refund from the spring or have their money go towards fall registration.

“We’re just going to sit down one of these nights and write a bunch of refund checks,” Siegel said.