After months of holding out hope that Long Beach youth baseball and softball leagues could return to the diamonds this summer, the extension of the Los Angeles County “stay-at-home” order last week changed the landscape indefinitely.
Over the weekend, Long Beach PONY became the first local league to suspend the remainder of its 2020 spring season. President Ken Jakemer said in his official statement that the extended closure of parks and school facilities would make it impossible for all of the PONY teams to return to a normal practice and game routine.
“Our board is working on a plan to pro-rate and reimburse families for games not played,” Jakemer said. “Please recognize that some of the operational expenses such as uniforms, equipment and field supplies were pre-purchased.”
Jakemer added that the age of the PONY players factored into the decision.
“Half of our league is getting ready for high school so those guys aren’t going to want to come back and play down with us in July and August when hopefully they preparing for their high school baseball program,” he said on Monday.
The official letter from Jakemer to PONY families also said that deciding on the fall season will come later.
“We will continue to keep you informed of future league opportunities and getting back to the game of baseball. We are hoping for a fall ball program, but that decision will be made at a later time and once it has been determined safe for our players to gather on the baseball field.”
Other youth baseball and softball leagues are still waiting to make a final decision about continuing the spring season. The Uptown LB league has moved its “drop dead decision date” to June 15, and expects that decision to be made based on guidance from Long Beach Parks, Recreation & Marine.
Texas, Utah, Oklahoma and a few other states are bringing back youth baseball and softball this month with social distancing restrictions for the parents.