It Was A Late Start
Because Of Covid-19
WARREN TAYLOR I For The Citizen
The pings of aluminum bats and the hollers of an adoring crowd are back at Garrard Park as Youth Baseball of Paris’ season is finally underway.
The kids of summer’s return to the diamond was delayed this season due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, and as a result, game days look different than past years.
“We’ve got a lot of signs about social distancing,” said Travis Earlywine, the league’s co-director. “We’re making sure that families are social distancing. We don’t let any parents sit in the bleachers, and they have to bring their own chairs. Only two or three kids are allowed in the dugout, and the rest of them sit in the bleachers while they are waiting for their turn to bat. The coaches and umpires wear masks and do their best to stay a safe distance.”
Traditional acts of sportsmanship, such as handshakes and high fives, are discouraged this season. The league is also requiring each team to have a representative to make sure all equipment and balls are sanitized.
The regulations were created with the assistance of the Bourbon County Health Department.
“Andrea (Brown) at the health department has helped us along the way with the things we are supposed to be doing. She keeps us up to date on what’s allowed and not allowed,” Earlywine said.
So far, the league’s efforts get a stellar rating from one fan.
“I think that the ballparks did an awesome job with the restrictions,” said Connie Campbell, who was in the crowd Monday evening to watch her grandson Jaxson play tee ball for the Blue Wahoos.
And crowds are complying.
“Everybody is doing exactly what they should be doing. We are all staying separated,” Campbell said.
The late start to the season has brought challenges.
“I’ve got a very young team, and we haven’t gotten a lot of practice time, so we are still in a big learning stage,” said Michael Olson, who coaches the Indians in the tee ball division.
Olson added that it is sometimes hard for his players to understand him when he wears a mask.
The most important thing is that the kids get to play this summer, which has been a joy to Campbell.
“It’s been wonderful. The kids have been waiting for this. They really enjoy it and have a great time,” she said.
Olson said he could not imagine his players missing out on something that defined his childhood.
“This is what I’ve done my whole life. I grew up here and grew up at this park. Not seeing baseball here this summer would have been very strange”.
Editor’s Note: You can read the complete story and view more photos inside Thursday’s (7-9-2020) Bourbon County Citizen.