By Chris Yow
Baseball is back — at least in Maury County.
Columbia American Little League will begin its season Monday night with Opening Day festivities. Jon McDonald, the league’s president, said he was excited to get the season underway, as the league will have its highest number of participants since he took over as president.
McDonald said the league debated in the early stages of the shutdown whether to cancel the season, but chose not to do so. That choice has paid off.
“We didn’t want to just cancel like everyone else was doing. We kept a wait-and-see approach to see if or when things would start to open back up, and if things were as bad as predicted,” he said. “I would talk with local officials to keep communication open, and follow the guidelines set by our mayors and governor. We announced this start date at the beginning of May, and it worked out.”
When the postponed season was announced, the league’s coaches contacted parents to gauge if they would play if the season did begin. Only 35 of 440 kids decided not to play this season. Due to cancellations in surrounding areas, however, McDonald said he was able to sign up almost 50 new players.
The opening ceremonies will begin at 5:30 p.m. on Monday night with Maury County Mayor Andy Ogles throwing the first pitch. Ogles sent a letter to Gov. Bill Lee this week asking him to lift all state-wide restrictions pertaining to COVID-19.
Ogles said in his letter than Maury County, population near 100,000, has seen on 102 confirmed cases of COVID-19 with no deaths.
“Furthermore, we have a regional hospital that serves as a multi-county region comprising of nine counties — and yet we have had very few cases admitted to our hospital,” he wrote. “So, very clearly, the fact support that we have reached a new stage in this pandemic, one where the people can make their own decisions as to how best to defend against the resurgence of this illness.
“This one-size-fits-all approach that might have been necessary in the early stages should give-way to local, if not individual control.”
McDonald said one precaution the league is taking this season will be to eliminate concession stands, but he said food trucks would be on site during the games on Monday. The season is scheduled to run through mid-August, and having a full season is something he felt was possible, but also important for the kids and families.
“These kids and parents need some normalcy in their lives,” he said.
Chris Yow is the multimedia director for Southern Middle Tennessee Sports. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @ChrisYow14.