Play ball! Youth baseball returns to the practice diamond

Jul 6, 2020

Baseball is back in Dartmouth.

After being postponed all spring, players returned to practice at Crapo Fields on July 6 as youth sports begin to open back up with extra precautions amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Players and their families are happy to be back playing the national pastime, along with being able to get outside the house for once. 

Dartmouth resident Jennifer Polochick said she was especially happy to see her eight-year-old son Lincoln work on his swing on her 43rd birthday.

“It was such a good gift to be able to see my son play baseball again,” she said.

Commissioner Jim Bosworth said the Dartmouth Youth Activities Association has made sure that they have their bases covered when it comes to making sure teams abide by the new guidelines to help reduce the spread of Covid-19.

Bosworth said the league is only allowing 100 people at a given field, nearly a third of whom would consist of players and coaches.

At the practices, coaches are responsible for teaching the kids not only the basics of the game, but also how to follow social distancing procedures. 

“It’s certainly been interesting,” Junior League Coach Chris McLain said. 

He said working with some of the younger players is especially tough, since it is typically a very hands-on approach.

“You really want to help guide them, but now you can’t do it how you used to,” McLain said.

To create a socially distanced environment, the commissioner said the league is planning to place some additional fencing and determine which teams will play on what fields since players won’t have enough space in the dugouts.

“It’s definitely a learning process,” he said. “You just have to adjust the best you can.”

Along with social distancing, there will be no sharing of equipment, aside from baseball bats, which Bosworth said would be easier to disinfect. 

If a player does need equipment such as a helmet, the team will provide the player with one, but they will have to keep it for the remainder of the season.

Even with the new guidelines, Boswell said that due to the nature of the sport, it’s hard to keep the kids apart while they compete.

“It’s not so bad for the outfielders,” the commissioner said. “The real problem would come with the close proximity batters and base runners have with other players.”

Bosworth said the DYAA will start regular season games July 13 for little league and pony league teams, with junior and t-ball leagues aiming to begin play on July 20.

When games begin, there will be no out of state teams traveling to play, and spectators will be limited and asked to wear masks and maintain social distancing.

“Overall, we are very happy the league is able to play,” Bosworth said. “We weren’t sure if we would be able to.”