Youth baseball could be first live sporting event to return to Mid-South

Youth baseball could be first live sporting event to return to Mid-South

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - If Memphis enters Phase 2 of its reopening plan, then baseball teams from all over the country would gather in the Mid-South Memorial Day weekend for the return of youth baseball.

“It just goes to show you that people are willing to fight this because they’re ready to get back to leading their normal lives,” Gameday Baseball tournament director Johnny Ray said.

USSSA Baseball was shut down after two weeks of play at the beginning of March, with the rest of sports. Nine weeks of play were missed, but now plans are to make it up. Normally, Gameday Baseball, which operates out of the First Tennessee Fields Complex in Cordova, would end the third week in June. Because of the coronavirus, every weekend is packed until the end of August.

“I think people have become accustomed over the last two months of what everyone is asking and how serious they are and to protocols that are being put into place,” Ray said.

According to tournament director Johnny Ray, it’s clear players and parents are eager to get back on the diamond. 78 teams signed up to play Memorial Day weekend. All brackets from ages 7-14 at two different, filled.

“When this first started back in early March, it’s raining, the weather was not ideal, and people just kind of accepted it,” Ray said. “Now that the weather has broke, it’s very evident around the area people are wanting to get out whether it’s baseball, golf, people want to get out of their house and people are getting out of their house.”

Gameday Baseball has extra precautions in place. Bleachers will be removed and it’ll only allow half of the seating capacity at each of the 10 fields. Every spectator will have to bring their own seating. Markers will be placed six feet apart to enforce social distancing. Concessions will be limited and besides bathrooms, no other common indoor space will be open.

“Now as far as the game goes, we’re not going to change anything with the game,” Ray said. “The game’s going to be played the way it has always been played.”

There won't be any handshakes or sunflower seeds. But Ray believes it's important for these kids to get back to the game.

“I’ve been very respectful of what we’re facing, but I’ve tried not to let it control my every day actions and I think that’s kind of the way that everyone else is starting to look at this now,” he added. “They’re not letting it control their whole lives and they want to get out and be more proactive to what’s going on.”

According to Executive Director of the Memphis Sports Council, Malvin Gipson, says they’ve lost out on millions of dollars in just hotel rooms when the events were canceled.

Ray said they are letting any team who wants to come, play. He added there are some safety concerns. They’re urging people who have any signs or symptoms to stay away, if the event is played.

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