Nobody will be yelling "Play ball," at McMinnville Civic Center or Pistole Park for the foreseeable future.
McMinnville Parks and Recreation made the decision Monday to cancel its spring/summer sports leagues, which shuts down baseball, softball and soccer in the city. Those leagues traditionally start in late April and run through July 4, but COVID-19 concerns made it impossible to continue.
“We didn’t want to do it,” said McMinnville Parks and Recreation athletic coordinator Terry Beard. “Traditionally, we like for our spring leagues to be done by July 4. Even if we got back to work Monday, we couldn’t get it started immediately. It would have taken 1-2 weeks before we could get started. It may have been June 1 before games could have started and by then, there wouldn’t have been enough time to play.
“I’ve spoken to other athletic coordinators in the area and they’re doing the same thing. Hopefully, if everything is good to go in July, we can start our fall league earlier and let it run longer.”
Beard estimated nearly 700 children had signed up to play either soccer, softball or baseball with the city this summer. Registration had already been completed, including the collection of fees. In a statement Monday, Parks and Recreation director Scott McCord said they would, “start processing refunds as soon as possible.”
Beard echoed that sentiment, mentioning refunds would be sent to the addresses listed on the registration forms.
McCord clarified that the refund process isn’t an indicator that games will not be played at all this year.
“Cancelling the spring league does not mean we don’t hope to play during the summer. Starting our fall league earlier means summer,” said McCord. “I just felt it was right to refund participants their money and start over. We did not want to hold people’s money for a chance to have a league.”
Beard mentioned that the fall league usually begins in August and games run in September and October. Plans could move that timeframe up at least one month, but no firm plans can be made without more guidance on dealing with large public gatherings.
“We’re trying to do what is right on the side of safety. There are a lot of unanswered questions and concerns for health and safety. Right now, we can’t have a bunch of kids in a dugout together or spectators in stands together,” said Beard.
If restrictions are lifted, Beard hopes to get a plan in place for leagues as soon as possible. Like everybody else though, Beard has to wait for more answers.
“We’re in wait-and-see mode. It will be about what gets lifted and when. We can’t make any concrete decisions right now other than it wasn’t safe enough for a spring league.”
Reporting by Lisa Hobbs was used in this story. The Standard is currently working to provide updates on county leagues in Friday's edition.