Little League has guidelines ready for whenever youth games return

Dave Uram
May 25, 2020 - 10:45 am

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — While there won’t be a Little League World Series in 2020, because of the coronavirus pandemic, that doesn’t mean youth baseball and softball can’t take place. 

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf’s office on Friday released an FAQ document with some answers about summer recreation, camps and pools. It says that organized sports — which includes Little League baseball and softball — can only resume in Pennsylvania counties that reach the “green” phase of Wolf’s three-phase, color-coded plan.

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If a county reaches green and  are able to resume, Anticipating the possibility of youth ball returning, Little League released a set of guidelines to help ensure safety. 

“When you get the green flag from your state and local health officials saying it’s ok to start these types of activities — here’s the model, here’s the program, here’s all the best practices that we’re gonna provide you, so you can go out and do this as safely as possible,” Little League President and CEO Stephen Keener said in a roundtable video stream about youth baseball and softball last week.

The guidelines include:

  • Eliminating any non-essential contact. 
  • Players wearing masks in the dugout. Coaches and volunteers wearing masks and gloves at all times. 
  • Players six feet apart when in the dugout or stands. 
  • Sharing equipment prohibited when possible. 
  • Umpires stand behind the pitcher’s mound instead of home plate.
  • Game balls changed every two innings.
  • No sunflower seeds.
  • No spitting. 
  • No postgame handshakes. This will be replaced by tipping caps from the baselines. 
  • No concession sales. 
  • Recommendation that family members be limited. 

Keener said Little League consulted with medical experts, including the CDC and World Health Organization. “We don’t have that expertise, so we’re really relying on the science and the health officials to help us develop it all,” he said.

And he understands if some people are apprehensive about kids returning to sports during the pandemic. 

“Parents are gonna have to make those decisions,” Keener said. “But what we wanna do is show them it can be done as, we think, as safely as possible.”

Sen. Pat Toomey, who moderated the roundtable, said he thinks it is safe enough for kids to resume playing Little League to get back to some kind of normal.

“I have a 10-year-old son, and if we could resume Little League baseball where I live, I would sign him up tomorrow, because I’m convinced this can be done safely,” he said.

Wolf’s announcement about organized sports emphasized that the FAQ did not address professional sports.

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The Associated Press contributed to this report.