This was set to be the month that baseball leagues around the country begin to wind down their seasons and prepare for postseason play and summer baseball. The playoffs and championships were set for May and hundreds of young, talented boys and girls were looking forward to that – preparing to take a major step in their journey through baseball and softball.
However, everything is still in disarray given the 24-hour curfew and national lockdown that the country is experiencing this month, and the schedule is up in the air for May. League activities have ceased, all baseball fields around the country remain closed and there is no gathering of teams allowed. There is no telling what will transpire in May and going forward this summer, but league officials remain optimistic.
President of the Junior Baseball League of Nassau (JBLN) Jeffrey Walcott is encouraging teams, league officials, coaches, parents and players to stay home, be patient and follow the guidelines of the respective government and health authorities. The COVID-19 threat has put a halt to all sporting activities in the country.
“When life throws you curveballs, embrace the new normal,” said Walcott. “Given the current coronavirus crisis which continues to unfold before all of us, it is crucial that we remain hopeful and embrace our current situation with optimism and comprehension. As a league, our primary concern is always the safety of our players and families. Consequently, we implore everyone to take seriously their personal responsibility to stay at home and minimize the risk of transmission of COVID-19. Let us find concrete ways to protect ourselves and the community by adhering to government orders and following preventative measures outlined by our healthcare professionals.”
This season, JBLN featured 466 young boys and girls on 36 teams in seven divisions (age groups), playing baseball and softball at the league’s Field of Dreams Complex at St. Andrew’s. The season was in full swing up until the 14th week of play. Teams were given an option of playing that week, then all activities shut down in all leagues the following week. It has been almost a month of no baseball activity in the country – at a time when players usually experience significant development and intensity increases.
“Our number one concern right now is the health of the entire country,” said Walcott. “We want everyone to follow all of the regulations so that we could get through this with minimum illnesses and deaths. As it relates to the season, we are hopeful that we could play some baseball in the summer, but that’s premature right now. Our main concern is the safety of the players, coaches, league executives, the fans and everyone involved. We just want everyone to stay safe.”
At this point, there is no telling if there will be any baseball played by any of the leagues for the remainder of the season. The Bahamas Baseball Association (BBA) National Championships has already been canceled. Whether or not league play will resume at some point this season remains to be seen. Walcott is optimistic.
“We all are eager to get back to our beloved Field of Dreams. Indeed we long for baseball and softball fellowship with one another,” said Walcott. “We long to coach and develop our players, to cheer on our kids, to order the infamous JBLN chicken and fries. We long to challenge umpire calls and we all long for that once-in-a-lifetime home-run. It is said that in baseball, as in life, all the important things happen at home. We encourage everyone to use this time to stay at home, strengthen the family bond and stay connected virtually with your friends and loved ones from afar.”
This is the 31st season of organized youth baseball at JBLN. A girls softball component was added this past decade, and now, there are almost 500 young boys and girls competing in youth baseball and softball games at the JBLN Field of Dreams Complex.
This season, the league even opened its doors to players affected by Hurricane Dorian in the Northern Bahamas. Those who were displaced, and are now living in New Providence due to the damage caused to Grand Bahama and Abaco from the passing of the hurricane at the beginning of September last year, were permitted free registration for the 2019/20 season.