FLORENCE, S.C. — The first signs that the COVID-19 pandemic might have an effect on the American Legion baseball season came down Tuesday.
The National American Legion Baseball Committee sent out a memo stating it “strongly encouraged” all American Legion departments to put a hold on all baseball activities (meetings, tryouts, etc.).
“It’s not really something that affects us because we’re not doing anything this time of year anyway,” Florence Post 1 coach Derick Urquhart said. “They have been encouraging everyone to go ahead and get the teams registered.
“…But maybe some of the northern and northwest teams that don’t have high school baseball — they might start their season, or at least they used to, sometimes in April, so they might have earlier practices.”
While the coronavirus hasn’t affected the start of the season just yet, Urquhart said there have already been a few brainstorming conversations about what the season might look like if it doesn’t begin on time.
Nothing is official, but the long-time Post 1 coach said discussions between coaches, athletic officials and committee members have produced at least three possible scenarios for the upcoming season.
“Within this state, we’re setting up a plan for one of three things — we start as usual and get the green light on May 25,” Urquhart. “The second option is to have a condensed regular season in June. The third option would be if the national committee does decide to cancel the regionals and World Series, then each state may proceed with a state season to declare a state champion.”
That option would likely come if the season didn’t start until the beginning of July, Urquhart added.
“That’s kind of a last resort, because I don’t think you’d be able to get anything going in the middle of July with high school football in August and kids leaving for college,” he said.
Any scenario will depend on when the players are able to get back on the field. With Governor Henry McMaster’s mandate that all schools be shut down until the end of April, the high school baseball seasons are still up in the air at the moment — meaning so is the Legion baseball season.
The health of the players and the community are still the highest priorities, Urquhart said, but he would be in favor of any option that would allow for some type of season to be played.
“We’re still hopeful for May 25,” he said. “But at this point, I hope we’re able to do something. I’m for any of the three possibilities, because that means we’ve reach a point where the national situation with the virus is under control a little bit better.”