The El Campo Little League will not have a spring season of baseball or softball this year due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
Little League International Thursday morning canceled the World Series and Regional tournaments. The El Campo Little League board met later Thursday to consider whether or not to continue. After discussion, they decided to forego any type of spring season, including All-Stars.
“We felt like we could not 100 percent guarantee (peoples safety),” Shawna Wied El Campo Little League President said. “If somebody did get sick that would haunt us forever, especially elderly people or (kids) in the league. Taking all those considerations and concurrences into play, for the safety for all the kids (and all those involved), we felt it was necessary to cancel at this point.”
Around 600 children had signed up to play in El Campo’s Little League this year and everything was ready to start the week after spring break. However, COVID-19 started to impact the country and the state, forcing a push back on the initial start date.
In early April, President Donald Trump gave Little Leagues hope, tweeting, “Hang in there! We will get you back out on the fields, and know that you will be playing baseball soon.” However, with local government ordinances that followed, it was deemed to risky this Spring.
Texas Friday allowed sports to start playing again, but only with four or fewer people gathered, ultimately making the Little League’s decision for them.
The decision for the Little League is especially painful for kids. Little Leaguers had tryouts in February, teams had been formed, uniforms had been printed, they were just waiting for the ok, that never came.
The El Campo Little League Board’s decision, Wied’s son Kyle was one of the nearly 600 children who had to deal with the fact he wasn’t going to play in the spring.
“When I had to break the news to him that we had to cancel,” Wied said. “He just looked at me with a look on his face and just kind of let out a scream, it was not a happy time in our household.”
Kyle’s reaction was shared by many.
“I’ve been hearing from parents and getting a lot of cry face emojis and text messages,” Wied said. “It’s hurting everybody. This was the one thing that kids could enjoy together and learn about the sport.”
Not only won’t children pack the fields, playing the sport they love, the Little League still owes money on the field and now will be missing out on revenue used to pay on the loan. The Little League was going to host the Texas East State Softball tournament for a second straight year, but that will not happen this year as well.
“When you’re having to refund a large amount back to parents and not have the revenue coming in weekly, it hurts a whole lot,” Wied said. “We’re a non-profit, so we get nothing from the city or the state or anything like that. We’re completely depending on (income), donations and things like that. We’re looking at some options and hopefully, we’re going to be about to make it. This could hurt us bad. We’re looking for things to possibly help us like grants and things like that, but we still have a note to pay.”
A big hamburger fundraiser and raffle the Little League puts on that was scheduled for this past Wednesday has been rescheduled for June 24 at the El Campo Civic Center. The Little League is encouraging Little Leaguers to continue selling tickets.
If restrictions get looser in the coming months, the Little League is still hoping to put on their Hook Line And Dinger select tournament and Fall baseball.
“We as a board want to see that ballpark thriving again, we want to see kids in their uniforms and playing,” Wied said. “We’re optimistic everything is going to work out and we’ll have a really good 2021 season.”
COUNTY YOUTH BASEBALL
Along with El Campo, East Bernard has officially canceled and, according to Wied, Wharton’s Little League has canceled as well. Wharton’s Babe Ruth League is still in a holding pattern.
“If we have the ok to play we intend to have a league this summer,” Grady Smith, Wharton Babe Ruth President said.