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Waiting game for Long Beach little leaguers


America’s Pastime is on hold or canceled at every level across the country amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Major League Baseball, set to open March 26, will begin at the earliest in mid-May following the most recent guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that prohibits gatherings of 50 persons or more.

The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) canceled all spring sports across the board, granting an extra spring season of playing eligibility to seniors in the process, all high school spring sports are postponed until further notice, and the Little League International Board of Directors and staff strongly advised programs to suspend/delay their seasons through no earlier than Monday, May 11.

Long Beach/Lido Little League President Andy Hayes, who coaches both of his sons’ (12-year-old Matthew and 10-year-old Jonathan) teams, said the annual parade scheduled for April 26 has been canceled but he’s holding out hope for a season, which consists of up to 16 games at the highest level.

“My heart is optimistic but I don’t think anyone would be surprised if we don’t get to play at all considering what’s going on in the world,” said Hayes, who has been involved with the league since 2013 and added the season typically begins April 15. “We have a strong group of volunteers and everyone is hopeful,” he added. “We may push the season back. Everything is up in the air of course.”

Hayes who said not including Island Park, which utilizes the Long Beach/Lido schedule, there are roughly 45 teams — 500 kids — eager to get the green light.

In addition to the coronavirus, another obstacle is the availability of playing fields. Hayes said the league has permits for five different locations, including school district grounds. “The kids are playing catch and I’ve also got a hitting net set up in my yard,” Hayes said.

Little League International, which operates more than 6,500 programs in 84 countries, posted the following message on its website (www.littleleague.org): “We recognize that this is the heart of the traditional Little League season, and we share in the great disappointment that many are feeling surrounding this additional pause in the 2020 season. However, it is our hope that by doing this, we will all play a small, but important part in flattening the curve in the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.

“We will continue to consult with appropriate medical advisors, government health officials and our volunteer leaders around the world, and we are committed to doing the best we can for the safety and well-being of our players, families, volunteers, and fans. It is our sincere hope that we can find ways to bring everyone back to the Little League fields this season, whether that’s later this spring or throughout the summer.”