The Parsons Babe Ruth League may very well serve as the first injection of athletics back into the community.
A day after Kansas Governor Laura Kelly announced her three-phase plan to reopen the state economy amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Parsons Babe Ruth League President John Rexwinkle has announced start dates for the summer youth baseball season.
Signups will resume on May 5 and take place at Bleacher Gear. May 18 will be the skills assessment, the draft will take place on May 20 and the season is projected to start some time between June 1-6.
“At this point, we don’t know if we’ll try to get everything in with a season of normal length or try to finish before July 4,” Rexwinkle said. “We obviously don’t know if we’ll have a postseason or not.”
Steve Tellefsen, the president and CEO of Babe Ruth League at the national level, sent out a memo saying that timelines for seasons are flexible.
“Commissioners in your state will work with league presidents to discuss if and when district and state tournaments can take place,” Tellefsen said in the memo. “Information regarding Regional tournaments and World Series dates and locations will be forthcoming as we explore other opportunities and formats in the next several weeks once our leagues get back up and running.”
Rexwinkle said he’s unsure whether or not the Parsons Babe Ruth League will compete in any postseason this summer.
“It takes some planning to get a regional and state tournament,” Rexwinkle said. “You can’t just throw it together. So that’s where we’re at. We’re hoping there will be some enthusiasm since everybody has been locked down. Hopefully kids are excited to play.”
For the Parsons Babe Ruth League, the dates for signups, tryouts and season start dates coincide with the various phases of Kelly’s plan to reopen the state’s economy. Rexwinkle said that all dates are currently tentative and may be flexed depending on when Kelly institutes each of her phases.
Parsons Babe Ruth League intends to follow all related health guidelines associated with the coronavirus pandemic, including social distancing when applicable.
Tryouts, tentative scheduled for May 18, will likely take place with different age groups going at different times.
“For the skills assessment, we’re entertaining having different ages show up at different times so we can stagger it and keep down the amount of kids we have at one time. We’ll make sure the kids are spread out,” Rexwinkle said.
Rexwinkle said the league is also prepared to take other safety measures.
“As far as practicing goes, we’re thinking that we may just want kids and coaches at practice. I don’t know if it’s academic or not,” Rexwinkle said. “But we’ll try to do something nonetheless.
“We’ll talk to the kids about social distancing. We’ll have hand sanitizer available. We won’t have high-fives and stuff like that.”
Internally for the league, Rexwinkle is anticipating a revenue shortfall for this summer but says the league has enough financial resources on hand to weather the storm.
“The hard part will be finding sponsors. We don’t know what that’s going to look like. But honestly, we’ll probably take a loss this year,” Rexwinkle said. “We have enough capital to sustain ourselves for now.”
While Rexwinkle is excited at the prospect of getting Parsons Babe Ruth up and running this summer, he’s cognizant that the COVID-19 pandemic is still ongoing and will continue to monitor government regulations and guidelines.
“We’re at the mercy of our government officials,” Rexwinkle said. “It’s always a possibility that the season could end sooner than we expect or not start when we expect. We’re still a month away from games if everything goes well.”