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And they're out....Bradford Storm calls the 2020 baseball season

'When you look at the physical distancing guidance we are currently following and even if we see those restrictions somehow loosened over the coming months, playing any organized sport is going to be a challenge'
President of Bradford Minor Baseball Association, John McBeth and son David, after a Bradford Storm Playoff game 2 seasons ago. Submitted photo.

There's no crying in baseball, but this year there may be a few tears. 

After last week's town council meeting where it was decided to cancel all town events, permits and recreational activities, the Bradford Minor Baseball Association made the difficult decision to cancel their 2020 house league softball and baseball season. 

"I don’t think anyone could have foreseen the breadth of this virus and the impacts that it would have across our entire community," read a note on their Facebook page from President John McBeth on May 7. 

McBeth explained that the decision by town council was a deciding step, but the Executive had already been in talks with York-Simcoe Baseball, Baseball Ontario, and even Softball Canada, about the options, including a shortened season. 

"We have looked at all the options. We have weighed options around a condensed season, we have looked at the impact on our players and their families and we have even looked at the services that we rely on to make a season work," read the note. 

"When you look at the physical distancing guidance we are currently following and even if we see those restrictions somehow loosened over the coming months, playing any organized sport is going to be a challenge," he explained. 

He said the future of the league remains to be seen, but the organization is taking its cues from public health and the Ontario Baseball Association and what other jurisdictions will be doing. "

And even though parts of the province begin to slowly open back up, McBeth said sports will need to look at different safe guards before they are able to run again. 

"It's not the same world we were living in six to nine months ago, so that's the lens we have to put on sport as well," he said. "Even if we were able to play the game, what would that game look like?" 

"If players cannot converse in a dugout, if parents can’t sit together in the stands and if we have to ensure such things as sanitizing baseballs and softballs in between innings, we not only increase the level of anxiety associated with playing the game in these conditions, but we also take on a significant amount of risk by ensuring that the kids, coaches, umpires and volunteers remain safe."

He said the anxiety around the restrictions would take the fun out of the game. 

"Let's just pause, come back next year stronger and figure out what we need to do to make the game work," he said. "I want to get it right before we put our product on the field."

A town hall was held on May 11 with the Bradford Storm held an online Town Hall meeting to answer parents' questions. McBeth said parents were understanding of the difficult decision that had to be made. 

The Bradford Storm relies heavily on its parents and volunteers that help run the program with around 500 players. It takes tremendous effort year round to keep the organization running. 

"Baseball's an easy sport," he said, noting it doesn't take much equipment to play but requires plenty of planning and organizing on the back end to get them up and running that takes time and effort. 

"It's a lot of work and we've been going at it for a number of months," he explained. "To get to this point here in May and have to pull the plug on the season, a lot of execs aren't happy about it, but it's the right thing to do."

McBeth is passionate about the game, taking on various roles within the organization over the past four years, coaching and managing his son's house leage and rep teams. This is his second year on the executive. Last year he was the Director of Sponsorships, and this year, President. 

"I will forever be known as the COVID-President, the one that ended up having to cancel baseball" he joked.

Almost 500 players were registered for this year's season, a slight drop in previous years due to COVID-19 anxiety that started to mount after registration opened in January. 

All families will be receiving their refunds for the season over the next couple weeks. McBeth said the organization plans to return in 2021 just as committed as they have always been. 

McBeth reminded baseball families, during COVID-19, “You aren’t stuck at home, you are safe at home.”

-with files from Miriam King


Natasha Philpott

About the Author: Natasha Philpott

Natasha is BradfordToday's Community Editor. She graduated from the Media Studies program at The University of Guelph-Humber. She lives in Bradford with her husband, two boys and two cats
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