Just when there looked to be a hint of optimism, Trail Little League cancelled its 2020 season.
On May 14, Trail Minor Baseball (TMB) sent out an announcement on FaceBook and an email to parents stating that they would not be playing this year.
“The members of the Trail Little League Executive have made the difficult decision to cancel the 2020 regular season at all levels of our association.”
The statement came the day before the City of Trail announced that TMB’s home field, Andy Bilesky Park, and other baseball and soccer fields would be open for public use, however, the province and viaSport has not cleared the way for organized sport.
The Trail Minor Baseball season, which includes, Trail Minor (age 9-10) and Major Baseball (age 11-12), Rookie Baseball (7-8), and Blast Ball (5-6), normally goes from mid-April to mid-June. The league was planning for a shortened playing season, but according to the release, time was running out.
“While we always knew the cancellation of our season was a real possibility, it is still incredibly disappointing to have to make it official.”
Trail Youth Baseball for ages 13-18 is still holding out hope, as their season often runs into July.
“Things had been looking quite optimistic after the Premier’s speech and things were seemingly moving along and looking good,” said TYB president, Jim Maniago. “Youth sports were included in phase 2 of the re-opening, but then there was a change in the process for sports to get restarted and now it’s grinded to a halt.
Maniago is meeting with the executive this week to weigh TYB’s options and possible guidance from the province.
“That’s where the liability and question of ‘who is going to approve it’ came up … so we sit and wait with no indication of what’s next or who is looking at it.”
The BC government agency, viaSport, is in charge of coordinating return to play for minor sports. However, viaSport hasn’t released any formal guidelines to Baseball BC and its member associations.
“The Executive was hopeful that we might have been able to get a shortened regular season in this year, but with parks still closed, guidelines not yet in place and the length of our season shrinking we felt it was necessary to give players and parents a definitive answer regarding our house season,” read the TMB release.
Baseball BC indicated in a letter to its member organizations that its insurance underwriter issued a “COVID-19 exclusion notice,” meaning sports organizations’ insurance would not cover illnesses brought on by the pandemic or communicable disease, leaving TMB, TYB and other sports leagues open to liability claims.
“We are concerned that liability is being pushed down to the individual sports and importantly to local communities/clubs, all under a situation where sport people are not the health experts,” said Baseball BC.
In early June, TMB usually selects its Trail Little League All Star team, and the squad practices and plays in a number of tournaments to prepare for the provincial Litttle League championship. Unfortunately, the provincial and national tournament, along with the Little League World Series were cancelled for the first time in their respective histories on Apr. 30.
Trail Little League will issue refunds to all that have already signed up, and have not ruled out play later in the summer or into the fall.
“In the coming weeks or months further information might come out detailing youth sports ability to return to play. If the fields are opened and guidelines are in place for our players and coaches to play baseball safely then Trail Little League will look at options for our Summer Development and All-Star Programs, and possibly a fall ball house league in September. We will keep you informed of future opportunities to play baseball.”