MANKATO, Minn. (KEYC) — Amateur baseball teams have taken the field for exhibition games.
Over the past seven days, the Minnesota Baseball Association has seen the outcome of months of efforts to get the green light from Gov. Tim Walz to return to the field.
Now, 89 town ball squads have begun hosting games and changes have been made on the Governor's stance regarding baseball in the state.
“We did get a response back from the governor’s legal team. They wanted to know why we were doing it, how we were doing it and we sent them copies of the letters, copies of the preparedness plan and of our safety checklist. They came back to us and said that the governor has changed the wording in his executive order from baseball games are not permitted to baseball games are not recommended,” MBA President Fred Roufs said.
Prior to the return of town ball, the MBA posted a COVID-19 preparedness plan to their website for teams, employees and fans to follow.
PA announcers repeat those guidelines prior to each opening pitch and all attendees are given a health-related checklist upon arrival.
"We've got a zero-tolerance method for this," Roufs said.
The decision to open fields for amateur baseball players then became a community decision.
“We asked our teams to go to their cities if it’s a city-owned park or to their school district if it’s a school owned park. They all had insurance, they had to verify that they had insurance and they were willing to open up their field to their local kids to play amateur baseball,” Roufs said.
Games are exhibition as of now, but as reported earlier this week, the hope is to have a season that counts toward the post-season in July.
"There's a lot of baseball fans in Minnesota and if the Twins aren't going to play, we're getting a lot of fans coming to games," Roufs said.
That of course, at 25-percent capacity or maximum of 250 people.