Mason Green is pictured here at bat at the 2019 under-9 championship game for Thorold Minor Baseball - Thorold Minor Baseball Photo
Two words people from all levels of baseball are hoping to hear soon.
It’s still unclear if team sports will be part of the Phase 2 or three of reopening the province, but Thorold Minor Baseball wants to be as prepared as possible to provide the best player and parent experience.
Association president Chris Green said Thorold Minor Baseball has been working to improve its communication with parents and increase its level of player development through all age groups. However, for a season to take place, Green said it’s important everything is ready to go before receiving the go-ahead.
“If and when we get the green light from Baseball Ontario and (Niagara) Public Health that we can start our season, we need to move very quickly to make that happen,” said Green.
The hope is to implement a month-and-a-half to a two-month season between July and September.
Parents and children with interest in playing baseball should sign up as soon as possible. With uncertain economic times, Green said credits and refunds will be provided if the season does not take place.
“If we get the green light, we have to have our players registered already so we can flip the switch and get on the field as soon as possible, and still deliver a great player and parent experience.”
Thorold Minor Baseball opened its registration pool earlier than usual with sign-ups beginning in December, and Green said the numbers were looking great prior to the pandemic.
He attributes that to the new direction the association is trying to take in attracting parents and children. It launched a new website that includes additional communication, which can also be found on its Facebook page, and it has added new corporate partnerships to help the league grow.
The association sees a lot of participation from children four to seven years of age and the eight-to-nine-year-old division is also strong, but there is a dip in numbers in the older age groups. A lot of that is due to children choosing to play in neighbouring city associations as they get older.
“For a small centre, we are trying to do everything we can to keep kids here and try to give them the best experience,” said Green. “If we don’t have something that someone else has to offer, it’s our job to offer it.”
“We’ve got a lot of good ballplayers (in Thorold),” he added. “You’ve got some travel ball programs that are around the region and there’s a lot of Thorold kids on those teams and we’d love to get some of them back here once we can show them it’s legit.”
This January, Thorold Minor Baseball launched a free indoor practice program open to anyone, even for those not registered. Prior to everything being shut down the practice happened every Saturday for three hours, and it was about teaching children new skills and helping parents learn so they can help their child at home.
Green said the program has to do with player development and the additional player and parent experience the association is working on providing.
While it’s unclear if a season will take place, health protocols are being implemented to protect the players.
Baseball Ontario, which is the governing body of amateur baseball in the province, has been transparent and proactive during the pandemic and Green said they’ll implement a safety protocol they've released, while also working with the city of Thorold and Niagara Public Health.
Some protocols could include disinfecting bats after each use. Players already don’t share helmets and water bottles, so that will stay in place and there could be minor rule changes to address physical distancing and other health concerns. The only difficulty that could occur is in disinfecting the baseballs.
The overall message Green wanted to hammer home was the importance of getting registered to play, with a promise of a refund or credit for if the season does not take place.
The more Thorold Minor Baseball can be prepared for a season, the faster everyone can say ‘play ball’.